Ontario International Airport (ONT) witnessed a surge in the number of airline passengers, reaching over 6.4 million last year.

This represents substantial increase of 12% over the previous year and an impressive 850,000 more passengers than in pre-pandemic 2019 numbers for ONT.

2023 Growth: A Closer Look at the Numbers


Breaking down the figures, ONT proudly welcomed over 6 million domestic passengers and 417,000 international travelers in 2023.

These numbers represent increases of 8.4% and a staggering 113.5%, respectively. Notably, the count of international passengers set an all-time high, shattering the previous record set in 2019 at 304,000.

Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissions, attributes the success to the airport’s transfer to local ownership in 2016.

“Since the transfer, we have been laser-focused on developing an aviation gateway that appeals to Inland Empire residents and Southern California visitors,” Wapner affirms.

This commitment has not only driven the regional economy but also firmly positioned ONT as a hub for commerce.

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Pandemic Resilience and Regional Growth

Highlighting the airport’s rapid pandemic recovery, Ontario officials underscore the strong gains witnessed throughout 2023.

The Inland Empire’s recent population growth, making it the 12th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the U.S., adds to the airport’s success. Recent U.S. Census data places it ahead of San Francisco and just behind Boston.

Ending 2023 on a High Note


The month of December capped off the impressive year with a passenger volume exceeding 551,000, marking a 15.4% increase over 2022.

Both domestic and international travel recorded substantial growth, with figures rising by 11.7% and 88.9%, respectively. This marks the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year increases for ONT.

Notably, Ontario International led all California airports in the respected J.D. Power 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.

The airport received top marks in terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check, and food, beverage, and retail – a testament to its commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience.

Ontario International Airport passenger drop off area.
Photo Credit: Ontario International Airport

Global Entry Enrollment Center & International Traffic


The surge in international traffic played a pivotal role in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s decision to open a new Global Entry Enrollment Center at ONT’s International Terminal in December 2023.

This move provides travelers across Southern California with convenient access to the popular Global Entry program.


While passenger numbers soared, air cargo volume in December and throughout 2023 faced challenges reflective of ongoing global economic trends.

Total freight volume witnessed a 12.5% decline for the month and an 11.8% decrease over the year. According to experts cited in a recent FreightWaves report, a true market recovery might not occur until the second half of 2024 due to mixed economic conditions.

Despite challenges, Elkadi remains optimistic about ONT’s role in the goods movement industry. Positioned at the crossroads of California’s goods movement, Ontario International Airport continues to attract shippers and retailers, remaining a key destination for the industry.

Optimistic Outlook for 2024


Atif Elkadi, OIAA chief executive officer, expressed pride in the airport’s 2023 performance and anticipates further success in 2024.

He notes that the airport’s world-class facilities, top-notch amenities, and industry-leading customer experience set an example for airports nationwide.

Taken overall, Ontario International Airport (ONT) is the fastest growing airport in the United States, according to Global Traveler, a leading publication for frequent fliers.

Located in the Inland Empire, ONT is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California.

It is a full-service airport which offers nonstop commercial jet service to two dozen major airports in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and Taiwan.

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