SANTA BARBARA, CA – October 26, 2016
The departure gates at Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) are busy with activity as the result of a strong increase in passengers over recent months. New nonstop service to Dallas beginning in June boosted American Airlines passenger numbers by 16% in June through September over the same period last year. The passenger increases were not limited to American, both United and Alaska Airlines flew more passengers during the same period compared to the year prior.
Overall, SBA passenger numbers were up 7% in June-September, and the Airport expects to finish the year with a healthy increase. Departures on the 22 daily nonstop flights to seven major market destinations have been consistently booked on average at nearly 80%, which in the airline industry translates to “full.” Both United and Alaska also recently have increased their aircraft size to accommodate greater passenger demand. The annual projected 660,000 passengers for 2016 is still less than prior to numerous airline mergers on the heels of 2008-2009 Great Recession, but the trajectory is going in the right direction for the first time since 2011.
“We’ve got the wind at our backs, and are capitalizing on this opportunity by visiting the major carriers on a sales tour to bring in even more service. It’s a very competitive environment but we are being aggressive and meeting with Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue and American in the coming months,” said Hazel Johns, Airport Director. “Successes like Southwest Airlines’ new service to Long Beach Airport prove that an even stronger market like Santa Barbara can support new service. We can compete favorably with many other airports because our newer facilities are efficient and cost-effective.”
Over the next two weeks, researchers from UCSB will be surveying departing passengers at SBA about their travel habits and what they would like to see in their hometown airport. “We expect to hear that travelers want more air carrier and flight options, and lower fares,” said Johns. “And that is why we are working in partnership with Visit Santa Barbara and the business community to make the case for SBA with new carriers.” The UCSB research is part of a larger effort to quantify the Airport’s role as an economic driver for tourism, academia, business and jobs in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara Airport supports three major airlines offering non-stop flights to Seattle, Portland, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco - with one-stops to everywhere in the world. SBA is a self-supporting enterprise fund, owned and operated by the City of Santa Barbara and serves over 640,000 passengers annually.