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SBA Ready for Summer Travelers

Post Date:06/22/2020 12:29 PM

SANTA BARBARA, CA, June 19, 2020  – Just a few short months ago, Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) anticipated a record-breaking summer travel season after nearly 50% increases in passenger traffic in January and February.  Instead, the Airport is now working to recover from record-breaking passenger losses since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  At its lowest point, SBA had lost 96% of its passengers, like all other airports around the U.S.  As of June 10, the passenger numbers are approximately 20% of normal summer volumes, or more than 300 passengers per day.

Making the most of an unprecedented situation, SBA used the time with fewer passengers to prepare for an inevitable recovery.  Repair and improvement projects were fast-tracked for completion while the impacts to travelers and airlines would be minimal.  The most significant upgrade is the completed repaving of the Airport’s long-term terminal parking lot.  Over the last couple of years, many passengers have noticed the buckling blacktop and weeds pushing up through the cracks.  But completing a repaving project was a huge challenge - the lot was nearly always at or over capacity. Repaving would require closing portions of the lot for significant periods of time.

“We actually attempted to repave the lot last year, but we had to abort the effort because the impact of closing even portions of the parking lot was just too severe on travelers,” explained Airport Director Henry Thompson.  “When we realized that the pandemic would leave the lot empty for a while, we jumped on the chance to accelerate the project.” The lot reopens on Friday, June 18.  There are nearly 750 parking stalls, not including motorcycle and ADA-parking.  One more significant improvement is that every parking stall now has a number to make locating vehicles upon return much easier.

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