Long Beach

Airport concession sales increase when travelers return – Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California 2021-09-22 11:00:08 –

Masked shoppers will purchase goods before their flight within the South Concourse of Long Beach Airport on Monday, September 13, 2021. Photo: Brandon Richardson.

Enjoy a neck pillow and water bottle, takeaway coffee, or a glass of wine before boarding. When passengers return to Long Beach Airport, they will return to shops and restaurants that offer travel essentials and amenities.

Traffic was nearly zero for several months, and after most of the airport shops and restaurants were completely closed during the pandemic, all but two were reopened. Hundreds of passengers have flown into Maui, Bay Area and Las Vegas and the feeling is back to normal, but labor shortages and Southwest Airlines’ takeover as the airport’s leading airline will continue in the coming months. It brings uncertainty.

“We are on track,” said Kuldip Johal, general manager of LGB’s dining operations, along with Paradies Lagardère, who runs most of the airport’s stores and eateries.

Johal refused to share specific numbers about the recovery of earnings, but she said they were on track. Return of passenger numbersAccording to data released by the airport in August, it was 71% of the pre-pandemic level. The terminal concessions resulted in millions of dollars, according to the 2019 Economic Impact Survey, which counted $ 16.7 million in total revenue for the 2017-18 fiscal year prior to the pandemic.

The staff is back too. According to Johal, Paradies has regained 60-70% of its staff and currently has 55 employees working in the LGB business.

One of the biggest challenges for restaurants run by Paradies was the shortage of workers, especially cooks, that plagued the hospitality industry across the country. To make up for the lack of kitchen space, the company moved kitchen staff between restaurants to match the flight schedule and changed the menu by removing preparatory items. Hamburgers and salads remained, clam chowder and squid were temporarily suspended.

Eric Scornick, 34, and Steve Herrick, 34, on the left were closed for most of the pandemic at the outdoor concourse at Long Beach Airport prior to their flight on Monday, September 13, 2021. Enjoying a breakfast bariot from Taco Beach. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

“It’s hard to hire now,” Johar said. The company is currently offering referral bonuses to existing employees who bring friends and family to join staff to attract new workers.

Samantha Argosino, owner of Little Brass Cafe, one of the few passenger service businesses at airports not controlled by Paradis, has difficulty staffing after traffic starts to increase again in March. He said he was worried about some of his potential employees. Risk of infection.

“I get the impression that the airport is a hub and a more dangerous place,” Argosino said.

For many companies, the last 18 months have been a period of constant coordination for Argosino and her husband, who co-own a cafe in the airport’s main terminal before security check-in.

According to Argosino, the pandemic has so far resulted in a loss of revenue of $ 275,000. To float, they turned the cafe into a mini grocery store and added a retail table with special items, gifts, and souvenirs that she later hoped to become permanent fixtures.

“We have become creative,” Argosino said. “It’s the spirit of many business owners. It will always be difficult, it will be more difficult-bring it.”

In addition to the ongoing impact of new variants of the coronavirus on travel, the long-term impact of JetBlue’s departure in October last year is being watched closely by companies in and around the airport. One factor.

“JetBlue has brought us a lot of customers,” said Apple Alfonso, operations manager at Mani, which provides valet parking services at the airport. With Southwest Airlines taking over the role of Long Beach’s major airline in the midst of a pandemic, Alfonso said her company is still adapting to the accompanying changes in travel patterns.

Southwest Airlines has won 17 slots abandoned by New York-based JetBlue Airlines, bringing the total number of flights allocated to 34. Currently, airlines fly all 34 slots on Sundays, with an average of 24-25 flights on weekdays.

According to Alfonso, flights to and from Hawaii currently operated by Southwest Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are particularly promising for the valet parking business. As these routes become more popular as leisure trips return, so do valet parking services and several-day bookings for parking services.

“People love Long Beach Airport,” Alfonso said. “They love how easy it is to access.”

Tish Stockton, general manager of Paradis’s retail business at the airport, said that as more leisure travelers mix with the business crowd, which makes up the majority of airport passengers, especially during travel restrictions. He said he noticed a difference in customer attitudes. place.

“They are happy just to be outside the house,” Stockton said. Currently, her job is to have bottled water, peanut M & M, Cheez-Its and other bestsellers in airport shops. “They are happy as long as we have these three,” she said with a laugh.

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