Inside The Enormous San Francisco Bay To Greater Los Angeles Flight Market

10 airlines operate with an average of 132 daily flights.

Four San Francisco Bay area airports have passenger airline services: San Francisco International, San Jose, Oakland, and Santa Rosa. (Stockton isn’t officially part of it.) In comparison, six airports in Greater Los Angeles to Los Angeles International Airport, Orange County, Burbank, Ontario, Long Beach, and San Bernardino. The latter only recently came about because of Breeze Airways.

An average of 132 daily flights

In February, the Bay Area to Greater LA has 3,720 departing flights (i.e., in that direction) scheduled to operate, based on the latest Cirium data. While that is an enormous amount, the intra-California market has fallen from 5,569 in February 2020 (-33%), which was the highest for any February to date.

Although not a fair comparison, to put the number of flights into some context, JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Islip, White Plains, and Stewart collectively have 1,645 flights to Orlando International and Sanford in February. Elsewhere, at the city level, São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro has 2,515 services, Sydney-Melbourne (including Avalon) 2,178, Tokyo-Sapporo 2,004, and London-Dublin ‘just’ 1,231.

Put another way, an average of 132 commercial flights take off from the Bay Area bound for Greater LA daily. That hides significant variation from 99 to 149 daily. There are up to 19,298 seats for sale each way, each day. About 1 in 5 flights domestic Bay Area flights go to Greater LA. The other way, it’s about 1 in 6.

Breaking it down

The following table summarizes all routes in question. It is based on the Bay Area to Greater LA direction. It details total February departures and average daily services in parentheses (unless stated). For example, there’s an average of seven daily flights between Oakland and Orange County. Averages hide many variations. Analysis of Cirium data shows that, given how crucial business travelers are in the markets, Saturdays have one-third fewer services than Thursdays and Fridays.

Given it is the USA’s fourth most-served domestic route by flights in February, it isn’t surprising that SFO-LAX’s offering is twice as great as the next most popular market. Alaska, United, Delta, Southwest, American, and JetBlue all operate. However, SFO-LAX flights have fallen by a third versus February 2020 and 39% over February 2019. Provision is far from recovered.

(= average flights per day in February unless stated)SFOSan JoseOaklandSanta Rosa
LAX846 (30)429 (15)318 (11)44 (2)
Orange County310 (11)212 (8)192 (7)26 (1)
Burbank204 (7)240 (8)276 (10)40 (10 weekly)
Ontario85 (3)120 (4)120 (4)None
Long BeachNone104 (4)132 (5)None
San Bernardino22 (5 weekly)NoneNoneNone
1,467 (52)1,105 (39)1,038 (37)110 (4)

Ten airlines operate

Predictably, Southwest remains enormously dominant between the Bay Area and Greater LA. It has over half of all departures, about three times as many as number two, Alaska. In all, the total market’s ten airlines are summarized as follows. Notice Frontier: its thrice-weekly SFO-Ontario service returns on February 16th.

  • Southwest: 52% of February flights; 10 routes
  • Alaska: 18%; six routes
  • United: 13%; four routes
  • Delta: 10%; three routes
  • American: 3%; two routes
  • JetBlue: 1.5%; one route
  • Spirit: 1.5%; two routes
  • Avelo: 0.6%; one route
  • Breeze: 0.6%; one route
  • Frontier: 0.2%; one route

What was the most recent Bay Area-Greater LA route you flew? Let us know in the comments.

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