In 2019, the Santa Barbara Airport’s passenger traffic soared like never before. After completing their passenger reporting, the airlines serving SBA confirmed on Feb. 7 that the airport broke all-time passenger traffic records last year.
Just short of one million, SBA served a total of 998,691 passengers, surpassing their previously held record by more than 130,000 people. This achievement also marks a 27.1% increase in traffic over 2018.
The uptake in passengers seems to fall in line with a larger trend. Over the last five years, traffic at SBA has steadily increased, airport officials noted in a press release.
Officials also say SBA’s growth has made it the fastest growing airport in Southern California for two years running – faster than LAX, Burbank, Orange County John Wayne and Ontario airports.
Recent airline additions to SBA could account for the increased traffic.
Delta Airlines reemerged at the airport in 2019 with three-times daily service to Salt Lake City and more than 100 connecting points beyond. While just getting started, Delta now represents ten percent of the total seat capacity in the Santa Barbara air travel market. As of now, United Airlines still holds the largest share with more than 40% seat capacity.
While a benchmark year for the airport, officials believe SBA’s 2019 numbers could have been higher had it not closed for 18 hours on August 25 after a private C-130 aircraft crashed on the main runway, cancelling all flights.
Still, the airport might have another chance to exceed one million passengers as it gears up for another year of traffic.
Focusing on the future, SBA has already announced Alaska Airlines will begin offering a second seasonal flight to Seattle on May 21. Frontier Airlines will also resume its seasonal service three times weekly to Denver on June 9. These offers will help passengers numbers continue to climb as the year goes on, officials believe.
“With a positive year in review, SBA also has a lot to look forward to in 2020,” Santa Barbara Airport Director Henry Thompson said in a press release. “Our priorities for 2020 include public outreach and continuing to improve our operations to make sure they are the most efficient anywhere along the south coast or airports to the north.”
SBA estimates that airline passenger growth will reach 20% in 2020. While celebrating growth, the airport also hopes to continue their ongoing effort in reducing aircraft noise.
“While the airport cannot control aircraft inflight, we do work closely with airlines to educate pilots on how to approach, land and take-off at the Airport in the most noise considerate and safest way possible,” said Mr. Thompson.
For more information, go to FlysSBA.com.