SAN JOSE — San Jose International Airport soared to strong gains in passenger flight activity during January — but the aviation hub remains stuck well below the peaks in passenger volume it achieved prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
An estimated 866,267 air passengers traveled through SJC during January, which was a big jump of 55.3% over the 557,678 passengers the airport handled in January 2022, new statistics posted by the airport show.
“The year is off to a great start,” said Keonnis Taylor, a spokesperson for San Jose International. “Such a rise in passenger traffic is emblematic of the public’s return to air travel.”
Over the most recent 12-month period that ended in January 2023, San Jose International handled 11.64 million passengers.
That represented an increase of 51.1% when compared with the 7.71 million passengers who transited through the airport during the 12-month period that ended in January 2022.
Yet while the current trends are encouraging, San Jose’s airport activity is cruising well below the lofty altitudes to which the aviation hub had soared prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
In 2019, SJC handled an all-time record of 15.65 million passengers.
This means San Jose’s passenger activity during the most recent 12-month period that ended in January of this year was 25.6% below the total for all of 2019, which was the final year before the coronavirus-linked business shutdowns began in March 2020.
San Jose International is no anomaly. The other two big Bay Area airports have struggled to climb back to their pre-COVID heights.
Both Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport remain a significant distance away from where they were prior to the coronavirus outbreak in terms of passenger activity.
Oakland’s most recent 12-month total of 11.37 million passengers was 15% below the East Bay air travel hub’s 2019 total of 13.38 million passengers.
And San Francisco’s total for all of 2022 of 42.28 million passengers was 26.4% below that aviation center’s total of 57.49 million passengers during 2019.
San Jose International recently was bolstered by an announcement from Spirit Airlines that the low-cost carrier had decided to initiate its first-ever flights out of the South Bay.
Spirit Airlines will begin flights every day of the week starting in June that will connect San Jose with Dallas, San Diego and Las Vegas, the company said.
“This is a really significant milestone on our road to recovery,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said in a February interview with this news organization at the time of the Spirit Airlines announcement. “It demonstrates that we are bouncing back. People are traveling again. Aviation is showing a resurgence.”