Continuing an air-travel recovery from the pandemic, passenger traffic at Ontario International Airport — a popular alternative for Southland travelers — nearly matched pre-COVID levels in September, according to figures released Wednesday.

More than 453,000 travelers passed through the airport last month, just 3% shy of the number from September 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically slowed air traffic. Last month’s passenger total was more than double the mid-pandemic number of 195,000 in September 2020.

Compared with September 2019, domestic travel at the airport was down just 1%, while international travel continued to lag, down 47%.

For the first nine months of the year, total passenger volume topped 3 million, up 59% from the same period last year and 24% lower than 2019.

September shipments of air freight and mail totaled more than 70,000 tons, down 9.4% from last September but 15.4% higher than the same month in 2019. Year-to-date, total cargo volume was more than 644,000 tons, down 3.5% from last year but up 15.6% from 2019.

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