A year after California was first told to stay at home for “two weeks to slow the spread” Los Angeles International Airport is still a ghost town.
In 2019, LAX was the world’s third busiest airport. But as the final numbers rolled in for passengers served at the four commercial airports in Los Angeles county, air travel is the worst since world war II. Traffic dropped from 103 million passengers in 2019 to just 34 million in 2020. That is a drop of 67% and don’t forget, air travel was normal until the middle of March 2019.
Of the four airports, LAX was particularly hard hit due to the high volume of international flights the airport services. International travel dropped by 75% in 2019 at LAX.
Overall passenger traffic at LAX crashed 67.3% last year while Hollywood Burbank Airport fell 66.6%. Long Beach traffic plunged even further, by 70.9%, while Ontario’s decline came in at 54.5%.
The initial hit to air traffic in March/April 2020 was brutal. Passenger traffic plunged nearly 96% in April at the four airports from the April 2019 levels. At LAX, only 300,000 passengers went through the gates in April, the lowest monthly total since 1955. Long Beach Airport saw a mere 6,300 passengers during the month.
There was a slow but steady improvement in passenger counts over the next six months. This screeched to a halt in November 2020 when California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered California under a new stay at home lockdown through the end of January. December’s cumulative passenger count fell 74% from December 2019 levels.
In the video above, we drive World Way through LAX in February 2021. It’s still deserted. This is an area that is normally gridlock with hotel shuttles, busses, Ubers and cars fighting to get into position to drop off and pick up passengers. It’s still alarmingly deserted a year after the lockdowns began.
Fear of catching the coronavirus may be the lesser of reasons why air travel is still so bleak. The simple fact is the restrictions that accompany air travel are just too onerous and expensive.
When passenger counts fell again in November 2020, Los Angeles County had enacted mandates that every passenger arriving at LAX sign a form stating they agreed to quarantine for 10 days after their arrival. It also required them to have a negative test result within 3 to 5 days of boarding the flight to Los Angeles and to retest within 3 to 5 days or arriving in Los Angeles. The quarantine was required regardless of the outcome of the test!
For domestic travel, it’s faster to drive anywhere in the United States than it is to spend ten days doing nothing when you arrive at your destination after flying!
Likewise there are onerous restrictions when you arrive at your destination.
People flying to Canada have to have all the time in the world and lots of cash at their disposal. Quarantine is mandatory on arrival for a minimum of 3 days at an approved hotel that is booked through a central booking line for all of the hotels. You can’t call the hotels and book directly. Quarantine guests pay a higher room rate than normal guests and the cost for three days runs about $1500.
You’re not allowed to enjoy any of the hotel’s amenites or leave your room. If you test negative when you arrive you will be released after 3 days. But should the test come back positive you will be transferred to a government quarantine facility. This sounds more like the NAZI concentration camps of World War II than an action to protect our health.
As vaccines have arrived, this brings a new barrier to travel. Many airlines and destinations are requiring proof of vaccination in order to fly.
This should be illegal. No one has the right to force another person to put something in their body. This is particularly true when the vaccine was rushed to market and has not been tested. It also doesn’t make sense. Currently we are being told that even after being vaccinated, we will still need to wear the masks, can still spread the virus to others even if we are not sick and can still catch the virus ourselves.
This simply doesn’t make sense. Why then would it be required for travel? Or at all.
The bottom line it that until the airlines come to their senses, it will affect them adversely. Currently we are hearing that up to 60% of healthcare workers and a similar number of the military are refusing to take the vaccine. If forced to do so in order to fly, many will simply not travel, or find other ways to reach their destination.
Meanwhile, while the travel and tourism industry suffers, sectors of the healthcare industry are getting insanely rich. There were testing stations everywhere I looked in and around the airport. With testing required on both ends for travel, and testing required very frequently to hold many jobs, that’s a lot of business.
Not to mention the trillions of taxpayer dollars that have been funneled into the industry to fund the research for a vaccine, distribute it and administer the doses. Efforts are being made to make it mandatory of all people, and to require it annually.
This is something we all need to give pause to and think. With that kind of profits at stake, how hard would you work to ensure the demand for your product stayed strong? I’m not suggesting that in terms of making people sick, but in terms of keeping the fear ratcheted up to the highest possible level while doing everything in your power to suppress true information on workable, affordable, life saving treatment alternatives that might cut across your profits.
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