San Diego International Airport (SAN) served 9.2 million passengers in 2020, a 63 percent decrease over 2019’s record-breaking passenger number of 25.2 million. The decrease is directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic which began impacting passenger traffic at SAN in March 2020.
“2020 was a difficult year for the aviation industry, not having ever seen such sudden and lasting decreases in passenger numbers,” said Kimberly Becker, President and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “Despite COVID-19’s devastating effects, there were a few bright spots at SAN. We gained new nonstop routes, accomplished many operational and financial efficiencies, and received Airports Council International’s Airport Health Accreditation for our ‘Let’s Go Safely’ program. Our priorities for 2021 are to continue to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public while working to restore confidence in air travel.”
Southwest Airlines continued to be the number one carrier at SAN in 2020 at 42 percent seat share. Alaska Airlines maintained the number two spot with 14.3 percent of total seats and notably added new service to five cities this year, including SAN’s first-ever nonstop service to Wyoming. It was also the first carrier to resume international service to Mexico with flights to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and later adding a new route to Cancún. Allegiant Air was the only carrier to grow year over year, increasing its capacity at SAN by 30 percent and adding five new routes to its summer seasonal network. Allegiant also connected San Diego to Montana and South Dakota for the first time.
In 2020 the Airport Authority implemented several operational modifications and efficiencies to help the airport maintain a high level of customer service and ensure the health and safety of passengers. SAN launched the “Let’s Go Safely” program with modifications throughout the terminals, Rental Car Center, Parking Plaza, and Airport Authority administration building. These included increased cleaning of high touch points, electrostatic spraying, signage on preventive health measures, floor decals and seat separation signage to queue six-foot social distance, hand sanitizer stations, Plexiglas sneeze guards in certain public spaces, and facial coverings required on all airport property. In October 2020, SAN achieved Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation for the program, at the time being only one of eight U.S. airports to do so.
As a result of COVID-19 impacts on operations, the Airport Authority implemented a Financial Resiliency Plan that has deferred $220 million in projects including capital improvements, delayed or reduced non-essential expenditures, delayed non-Airport Development Program (ADP) and non-mission critical project spending, and have implemented a hiring freeze.
The Airport Authority continues to make progress on the ADP, the plan to replace the aging Terminal 1. On September 3, 2020, the Airport Authority awarded design-build firm Turner-Flatiron the contract to build the Terminal & Roadways component of the ADP. Currently, the ADP is undergoing federal governmental review by the FAA and the Airport Authority is pursuing the necessary Coastal Development Permits from the California Coastal Commission. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2022.
Detailed reports of SAN air traffic statistics are available at san.org/News/Air-Traffic-Reports. To learn more about what SAN is doing to ensure the health and safety of its customers, please visit san.org/gosafely.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is the busiest single-runway commercial service airport in the U.S. and the third busiest airport in California. In 2019, SAN welcomed 25 million passengers and offered nonstop flights to destinations worldwide. The airport is an economic driver for the region, contributing nearly $12 billion in economic activity in 2019 and supports nearly 116,600 jobs. With anticipated passenger growth in the future, the Airport Development Program (ADP) is cautiously moving forward with plans to replace Terminal 1 with a larger, more modern facility and other improvements that enhance the airport experience. The airport is managed and operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. For more information, please visit san.org.