April 15, 2009

Dip in traffic at LAX affects city economy

A decline in passenger traffic and cargo shipments at Los Angeles International Airport has affected the city's economy, experts say.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that passenger traffic at the airport has declined 15 percent in the 12 months ended February, while cargo shipments have dipped 24 percent.

The newspaper noted that the airport was the world's third-busiest for freight in 2000 but has since fallen to 13th place, the Airport Council International says. In the same time period, it went from being No. 3 worldwide in passenger traffic to No. 6.

Local economists say the airport is one of the region's principal economic engines that generates billions of dollars and houses thousands of jobs.

It is such an important piece of our economy, said Nancy Sidhu, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Two of our key industries are tourism and international trade, and LAX is a core element in both of those.

The airport's decline has affected local hotels, which have seen their occupancy rates fall. In January, they slid 12 percent from a year earlier, while revenue per room dropped more than 17 percent, said PKF Consulting, a hospitality research and consulting firm.