Passenger traffic at Ontario International Airport, an increasingly favored alternative for Southland air travelers, reached near pre-pandemic levels last month, according to figures released Monday.

The number of passengers at ONT in July was nearly 478,000, or about 97% of the total passenger count recorded in July 2019. The figure was 171% higher than July 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data compiled by the Ontario International Airport Authority, the Southern California gateway welcomed more than 462,000 domestic passengers and 15,600 international travelers in July, increases of 167% and 333%, respectively, compared to July 2020.

The number of domestic travelers last month was just 1.2% lower than July 2019, while international passenger volume was 42% lower, according to airport officials.

From January through July, ONT welcomed more than 2.1 million passengers, almost 70% of the total over the same period in 2019 and 40% more than the first seven months of 2020.

“Ontario International’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues at a robust pace,” said OIAA Board of Commissioners President Alan D. Wapner. “Airlines are showing great confidence in our airport and our strong customer base as the demand for air travel, particularly domestic service, approaches pre-pandemic volume.”

Wapner also noted that the airport’s customer base is growing, citing a recent analysis of household migration to and from the top metropolitan regions in the United States. Among the report’s findings: the Inland Empire experienced the greatest population growth in 2020 as families sought more affordable homes in less densely populated areas following the onset of the pandemic.

ONT also has been named the fastest growing airport in the United States by Global Traveler.

Meanwhile, air freight shipments at ONT in July, which totaled 66,400 tons, were 6% higher than the same month in 2019, but 17.2% lower than July last year. For the first seven months of the year, freight volume was almost 480,000 tons, nearly 5% less than the same period a year ago, but almost 16% more than 2019.

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