Increase in travelers at LAX makes airport 5th busiest in world

This week, preliminary figures show LAX jumped 10 spots to No. 5 on the list of busiest airports in the world for 2021.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The COVID-19 pandemic affected just about every aspect of life and that includes travel. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Los Angeles International Airport dropped from No. 3 to No. 15 on the list of busiest airports in the world.

"Pre-pandemic, we had a little more than 88 million passengers come through here in 2019," said Justin Erbacci, the chief executive officer for Los Angeles World Airports. "Then in 2020, after the pandemic, we were down to 28 million, so a significant decrease."

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"We've been traveling quite a bit, even during the pandemic, for work and stuff," said Sumi Kaushik, an LAX traveler, "So, I can definitely see the uptick."

Erbacci said he's seen a steady increase in the number of travelers at LAX, and he's excited to see terminals begin to fill.

This week, preliminary figures show LAX jumped 10 spots to No. 5 on the list of busiest airports in the world for 2021.

One traveler said this is the first time since the start of the pandemic that he and his family are traveling.

"I'm sure everybody's excited to finally move around and not be in lockdown," said Leo Penaloza. "Travel restrictions still exist, so people still have to be mindful of those, but overall, I'm sure people are happy."

Erbacci said the airport is also continuing to improve with its $15 billion modernization program, which includes a new "people mover" train, renovated terminals, additional parking structures and more.

"We're making really great progress on that," Erbacci said. "There's just so many things that are moving forward here where we're excited about it."

Erbacci said domestic travel should be back to pre-pandemic levels by next year, however, it's the international and business travel that may take a little longer.

"As international travel comes back, I'm sure that we're going to continue to move up that list back to where we were pre-pandemic," Erbacci said.

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