The San Diego County International Airport. Photo courtesy KPBS News.

San Diego International Airport served more than 15.6 million passengers in 2021, a 69% increase over 2020, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced Tuesday.

The growth over 2020’s 9.2 million passengers was partly due to people becoming more comfortable with travel as coronavirus vaccination rates increased, as well as 18 new routes to both domestic and international destinations and one new carrier at the airport.

“The aviation industry continued to be impacted by COVID-19, but we saw improvement in passenger numbers once vaccines were available and people felt more comfortable traveling by air again,” said Kimberly Becker, president and CEO of the airport authority.

“Airlines added new destinations from SAN and flights to most international destinations were resumed once regulations and restrictions were eased. Throughout the pandemic, our airport has remained open providing services to those traveling and maintaining our high standards of cleaning for the health and safety of passengers,” Becker added.

According to the authority, Southwest Airlines continued to be the top carrier at SAN in 2021 at 33% seat share. Southwest Airlines expanded its presence with service to three additional Hawaiian destinations and six new routes overall.

Alaska Airlines maintained the No. 2 spot with 19% of total seats, growing 5% from its total seat share in 2019 and adding new service to five cities.

Allegiant Air had the greatest capacity growth among carriers serving the airport. Allegiant Air grew by 77%, adding five new routes to its summer seasonal service.

Swoop, a Canadian-based carrier, began service at SAN providing nonstop service to Edmonton, Alberta.

However, despite the growth year over year, the airport authority reported passenger traffic in 2021 was down 38% compared to 2019’s record- breaking year of 25.2 million total passengers.

— City News Service, Inc.