Airport officials ‘astounded’ by passenger count; Flight traffic back near pre-pandemic totals
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) may have started 2021 with similar turbulence felt by the entire travel industry, but it ended with plenty of friendly skies.
Data released by airport staff Monday shows more than two million total passengers used PSP in 2021 and that December was the seventh straight month of record-setting passenger counts.
“We are astounded by the record passenger numbers we’ve experienced,” said Harry Barret, interim executive director of aviation, “and we’re eager to work toward translating those numbers into job opportunities and economic progress for our community.”
The 2021 totals reflect a 67% jump from 2020 numbers and a return to the momentum the airport was experiencing before the onset of COVID-19. PSP was at or above the two million mark between 2016 and 2019. It was well on the way there in 2020 when the pandemic shut down much of the travel industry for months.
Data comparing the past two years — seen in the chart above — shows a somewhat wild ride for passenger counts at the airport. There was a significant drop in monthly passenger counts starting the spring of 2020 that lasted through the start of 2021. Then, as travel restrictions lifted and local lodging opened back up, the scenario suddenly shifted. Between April and December 2020, 456,000 people took flights through PSP. Those same months in 2021 saw 1.6 million passengers.
News of record-breaking passenger counts has led some to speculate that the skies above Palm Springs must be filled with an ever-increasing number of passenger planes. Data shows that’s not exactly true.
The airport currently offers the highest number of routes ever and averaged 39 flights per day in 2021. But that’s only four more than the 35 average daily flights recorded during the past decade.
The noticeable increase in air traffic may be because 3,500 more flights were recorded last year compared to 2020. But there were actually 323 fewer flights in 2021 compared to 2019.
In addition, airport officials note that noise complaints were roughly the same in 2021 compared to prior years and that most of the complaints were about military jets that also use the airport.
SWIM CENTER CLOSED AGAIN: City staff said Monday the Palm Springs Swim Center has temporarily shut down again due to short staffing related to COVID-19 that has left the facility unable to operate efficiently. “We understand how much our residents use and appreciate the Swim Center, and we did not make the decision to close lightly,” said Jeannie Kays, interim director of Parks and Recreation. “This closure is necessary to ensure the health and safety of not only our employees but also the public who use the facility daily. We thank our residents for their patience during this trying time.” The facility closed on Jan. 10 but re-opened on Jan. 19. However, a few days later, reports began circulating of service disruptions, leading to the closure Tuesday. Staff said they would notify the community when the Swim Center is once again able to re-open to the public
NAVIGATION CENTER DEMONSTRATION: Neighbors opposed to a homeless services center planned for the northern part of the city said earlier this week they plan to stage a demonstration outside City Hall prior to the Palm Springs City Council meeting Thursday evening. The Council voted to pursue the property, located at 3589 McCarthy Rd., for use as a campus for homeless services following heated public discussion on Nov. 5. It was one of two locations under consideration for the project and contains three buildings with 47,000 square feet of usable space. In an email to The Post on Monday, and subsequent posts on social media, community members near the proposed facility said they are organizing the event to bring attention to their claims that the city is using their neighborhood as a “dumping ground” for the homeless. On Tuesday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the use of $5.7 million of a promised $7 million in county funds for what is being called The Palm Springs Navigation Center. The City Council will discuss the acquisition and funding of the site at its Thursday meeting.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers a dozen programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters plan a sculpture garden walk and lunch in Palm Desert, starting at 10 a.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 a.m. a 11:30 a.m. Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
DWA REDISTRICTING: Desert Water Agency (DWA) needs the community’s input on new electoral division maps and is hosting a pair of virtual workshops to collect that input. The first is today at 12 p.m. You can click here for all the information about the workshops. No registration is required — simply click on the Zoom link to join. For information and instructions for drawing your own maps, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to attend today, there will be another workshop on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on participants’ minds from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.
PLANNING COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Planning commission meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. Information on tuning in to the meeting, or participating, can be found here.
APPEALS BOARD: The city’s Administrative Appeals Board meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. A complete agenda, as well as instructions on how to view the meeting or participate in the meeting, can be found here.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
LES MISERABLES OPENING WEEKEND: Les Miserable opens Friday, Jan. 28 and runs weekends through Feb. 13 at Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 North Palm Canyon Dr. (at the corner of Alejo Road). Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Admission ranges from $15 to $32. For tickets or other information, call the PCT Box Office at 760-323-5123 or order online at PalmCanyonTheatre.org. Box Office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
HBCU TOURS: The African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) of the Palm Springs Unified School District recently announced two dozen students will be able to attend a tour of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in April completely free of charge. The deadline for application to participate in the tour is Jan. 31. Selected students will fly with approved chaperones to Washington DC and visit several HBCU’s and landmarks in the surrounding area. An application form is available here, and a permission slip for the tour is available here.
NEXT ART EXHIBIT: The Desert Art Center in Palm Springs opens one of the largest shows of the season on Friday, Feb. 4, with all new works from gallery artists plus an art pop-up in the Studio Gallery featuring the work of Janis Buller and Cathy Parker. Every art lover is welcome to join on the 4th from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. for refreshments and the largest selection of local fine art in the Coachella Valley. DAC is located at 550 North Palm Canyon Dr. in Uptown Palm Springs. Community support feeds the organization’s outreach to schools with art classes and scholarships.
AWARDS GALA: Tickets are on sale now for the Palm Springs Black History Committee’s annual Black History Awards Gala, to be held at the Hilton Ballroom, 400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, on Saturday Feb. 5. The gala is the committee’s way of recognizing individuals, groups, and local and corporate businesses contributing to the success and achievements of African Americans and our society. This year’s event begins at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and cocktail hour. Tickets start at $75 and can be purchased at this site.
BIKE EVENT: Registration for the annual Tour de Palm Springs, planned for Feb. 12, remains open. The event features walking and cycling routes, some as long as 100 miles, kicking off between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. All of the routes start and finish on South Palm Canyon Drive near Tahquitz Canyon Way. More information about the event, which draws up to 10,000 cyclists annually, can be found here.