SBA Releases Record Passenger Numbers for 2019
The airlines serving Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) have completed their passenger reporting for 2019 and confirm that the Airport has broken all-time records for passenger traffic for calendar year 2019. Still, the Airport’s numbers would have been even higher – exceeding one million passengers – if the Airport had not been closed for 18 hours on August 25, 2019 after a private C-130 aircraft crashed on the main runway, cancelling all flights.
With the help of its dedicated airlines and staff, the Airport served a total of 998,691 passengers - just 1,309 passengers short of one million – or the equivalent of a day’s passenger traffic lost during the grounding of flights last August. This overall passenger number represents a 27.1% percent increase over 2018. Traffic at Santa Barbara has grown steadily since 2016. The next highest passenger volume for a calendar year happened back in 2006 with 865,998 passengers, served then by the “old” Ovington Terminal.
The growth at Santa Barbara made it the fastest growing airport two years running in Southern California – growing faster than LAX, Burbank, Orange County John Wayne and Ontario airports. One of the most important events at SBA in 2019 was the reemergence of Delta Airlines in August with three-times daily service to Salt Lake City and more than 100 connecting points beyond. While still in its ramp-up phase, Delta Airlines now represents 10% of the total seat capacity in the Santa Barbara air travel market. United Airlines still holds the largest share with more than 40% of seat capacity.
“With a positive year in review, SBA also has a lot to look forward to in 2020,” says Santa Barbara Airport Director, Henry Thompson. “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.” The Airport estimates conservatively that airline passenger growth will reach 20% in 2020. At the same time as the community celebrates growth, the Airport continues to work with pilots and airlines regarding 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.”
SBA has already announced new service that will grow passenger numbers in 2020. On May 21, Alaska Airlines will add a seasonal second flight to Seattle in the morning, to complement its current afternoon departure. Frontier Airlines also will resume its seasonal service three times weekly to Denver on June 9.
The first new destination announcement for 2020 is the addition of daily service to Chicago on United
Airlines, beginning on June 4.