John Wayne Airport passenger growth slowed in October largely due to one less daily flight to Canada, but airport officials said they expect holiday travel to be the best since 2007.
Nearly 792,000 passengers flew through John Wayne in October, a 1.9 percent increase over October 2012. While still growing, that pace is down from earlier in the year; in January, for instance, traffic jumped 9.7 percent year-over-year on the strength of Mexico service that started up the previous summer.
Jenny Wedge, an airport spokeswoman, attributed much of the slower growth toWestJet, which had one flight a day to Vancouver and Calgary in Canada for most of October 2012. The Canadian airline discontinued the Calgary flight on Oct. 28, 2012, and has not resumed it.
The airport’s Mexico service – two daily flights by AirTran to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas and two flights by Interjet to Mexico City and Guadalajara – saw a 2 percent dip in October passengers, Wedge said. The combined drop-off in Canadian and Mexico travel resulted in nearly 5,700 fewer international travelers in October, an 18.1 percent year-over-year decline compared to October 2012.
Orange County air travel overall topped 7.7 million for the first 10 months of the year, up 4.5 percent over the same period in 2012.
Although passenger numbers for Thanksgiving are not in yet, Airlines for America, the U.S. airlines’ trade association, expected the holiday week to be the strongest for travel since before the recession.
Wedge noted Interjet will add some additional flights to Mexico in late December and early January for the holidays. In addition, United will start direct service to Mammoth.
“We expect passenger traffic will continue to be fairly steady through December and the early part of January as we get through the holidays,” Wedge said.