Sonoma County Airport ends 2022 with record pre-pandemic passenger numbers


Charles M. Schultz-Sonoma County Airport ended 2022 with more passengers than ever before.


Final tally: 614,481 passengers, airport officials said on Monday, up from the previous record of 488,179 passengers before the 2019 pandemic.

“Compared to many smaller airports (in the past), we had an exceptional year,” said airport manager John Stout.

And the Sonoma County facility entered 2023 on a solid footing.

American Airlines, which operates its flights to Dallas from a regional airport on a seasonal basis — usually with a Thanksgiving break and then resuming in early spring — has reduced downtime this season due to continued demand, Stout said.

Dallas starts again on Feb. 3, so they’re bringing it back almost two months early,” he said. “We’re very excited to see them coming back much sooner.”

More good news comes from Avello Airlines. It began seasonal service to Palm Springs on November 11, with initial suspension plans in March.

“He’s doing well and they’ve already extended him until the end of June,” Stout said.

Despite the start of 2023, Stout said he expects the airport to perform as well this year as it did in 2022.

In terms of construction, airport officials will appear before the county’s supervisory board on Jan. 31 asking for more funding, Stout said. While the amount could not be revealed before the meeting, he said it would be in the millions of dollars.

The reasons are many – construction delays, higher costs than at the start of the project, and unforeseen problems that have arisen, including a recently discovered sinkhole in front of the building. It also means the completion date for the project will be pushed back from late March to May, Stout said.

In terms of passenger numbers for December, the three commercial carriers serving the airport in December—Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Avelo Airlines—cumulatively carried 44,717 passengers through the facility. This is 0.5% less than a year earlier and below the 52,360 passengers carried in November.

American Airlines carried 5,505 passengers via Santa Rosa last month, up 41.5% from December 2021. The load factor – a measure of how full the planes are on average – was 73%.

Alaska Airlines carried 28,786 passengers through the regional airport in December, up 5.4% from a year earlier. Its load factor was 84%.

Avelo, which flies from Santa Rosa to its hub in Burbank as well as Las Vegas and Palm Springs, carried 10,426 passengers via Sonoma County Airport in December, down 13.5% from December 2021. Avelo’s load factor was 79%.

Stout explained that although the total number of passengers carried in December was lower than in November, it was still higher than in the flight schedule for December. That is why the final number of passengers for 2022 exceeded his expectations.

Cheryl Sarfati is active in tourism, hospitality, healthcare and employment. She previously worked for the New Jersey daily Gannett and NJBIZ, the state business magazine. Cheryl has freelanced for business magazines in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Lehigh Valley, PA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge. Contact her at [email protected] or 707-521-4259.

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