John Wayne’s passengers at record level; gained four airlines; Southwest remains first

John Wayne Airport

John Wayne, Orange County, Santa Ana. They’re all names used for the slot-constrained airport in the enormous LA Basin. The airport, which will hereafter be referred to as John Wayne, had 11.7 million passengers in 2023, up by one million passengers over 2019. It added more additional traffic than any other airport in the LA area.

John Wayne passengers 2005-2023

Has welcomed four carriers, but Southwest remains the number-one

John Wayne has been successful in attracting new airlines. Spirit joined its portfolio in 2020, and Allegiant in 2021. Air Canada returned in 2021 after leaving in 2010. The most recent development was the arrival of Breeze in 2023.

Breeze, which primarily operates unserved routes, began John Wayne’s first flight to Florida when Orlando MCO launched on 13 February 2023 (2-weekly). The summer-seasonal route returns on 29 May 2024 (3-weekly). The carrier begins Tampa on 31 May (2-weekly).

Examining Cirium schedules for Q1 2024 (January-March) shows that Southwest remains firmly John Wayne’s leading operator. It has a third of the available seats, meaning it is about twice the size of second-ranked American.

Southwest has 11 routes in these three months, with its lower capacity (versus 2019) the result of cuts to its high-frequency intra-California operation (-16%). In contrast, non-California seats have risen by a fifth.

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Top 10 John Wayne airlines Q1

41 destinations are served non-stop in Q1

They include four international destinations: Calgary (WestJet), Los Cabos (Southwest), Puerto Vallarta (Southwest) and Vancouver (Air Canada and WestJet). They also include various brand-new airports that joined John Wayne’s network since the start of 2023 (only those that are still served are shown):

  • 21 February 2024: Ogden, Breeze (4-weekly)
  • 8 January 2024: Miami, American (daily)
  • 14 December 2023: Tucson, Alaska Airlines (daily))
  • 1 June 2023: Charlotte, American (daily)
  • 29 March 2023: Columbus, Breeze (returns in May 2024; 2-weekly)

Phoenix PHX is John Wayne’s most-served dstination. There are 85-weekly departures in March with Southwest (45), American (35) and Frontier (5). Of course, many passengers connect at the Arizona airport, so this does not show the O&Ds. Phoenix only ranked fourth in Q1 2019, when San Jose, Seattle, and San Francisco were in the top three.

Top 10 John Wayne destinations Q1 2024

20 destinations have been cut

Analysis of Cirium data for full-year 2024 to 2004-2023 indicates that 20 destinations are no longer served. They are organized as follows by the last year they had flights:

  • 2023: Chicago MDW, Cincinnati, Honolulu, Houston HOU, Pittsburgh, St Louis
  • 2022: Aspen, Phoenix AZA, Sioux Falls (SD)
  • 2021: Kansas City
  • 2020: Mammoth Lakes
  • 2019: Albuquerque, San Antonio
  • 2017: Mexico City
  • 2014: Guadalajara
  • 2012: Kahului
  • 2010: Toronto YYZ
  • 2008: Kona, Lihue, Los Angeles

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