Despite COVID-19, Ontario Airport Remains Critical Economic Engine for County

07/24/20

Author: Matt Mena

Ontario International Airport (ONT) headed into 2020 as America’s fastest-growing airport two years running and as one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, fortifying our role as an important economic engine for San Bernardino County, the Inland Empire, and Southern California.

Then came COVID-19, which impacted airports across the U.S. as domestic and international air travel declined sharply. ONT was no exception, recording significantly lower passenger volumes in March, April, and May as business and leisure travelers largely stayed home. Even so, there is a growing sense of confidence that passenger traffic will pick up in the coming months as the post-pandemic recovery takes root, and based on flight schedules published by our airline partners, we share that optimism.

In the meantime, cargo shipments through ONT have increased dramatically through the pandemic, underscoring the critical role our region plays in logistics and the supply chain. Our freight volumes have grown more than 20 percent in each of the past three months, fueled by a surge in e-commerce as shoppers stayed at home. In May alone, more than 81,000 tons of commercial freight passed through ONT – up 24 percent from the same month a year ago.

These kinds of historic gains are encouraging news for our County and region as we begin to recover from the economic damage caused by COVID-19. When it comes to logistics and supply chain management, the Inland Empire has a distinct competitive advantage. We’re ideally located, and have the infrastructure and talent pool to handle the growing demand for product and goods shipments.

Through the efforts of our regional economic development agencies, colleges and universities, and groups such as Inland Economic Growth and Opportunity (IEGO), the Inland Empire are developing the partnerships and systems to become a global innovation hub – bringing more business and even better jobs to the region.

We feel Ontario Airport plays an important role in all of this, and look forward to our continued partnerships with our local business community and stakeholder groups.

We also look forward to the return of the kind of passenger travel that made ONT the fastest growing airport in the country. To that end, we’ve taken industry-leading steps to ensure the health and safety of its passengers, visitors and employees, including the use of high-tech sprayers and a highly effective disinfectant to sanitize all touchpoints within the airport, new passenger screening trays treated with powerful antimicrobial technology, new escalators with self-sterilizing UV-C light technology and clearly posted social distancing guidelines.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our industry and our economy, but we’re doing everything in our power to weather these very turbulent times as we look forward to an equally strong recovery.