Bob Hope Airport officials attribute drop in parking revenues to more people dropping off at the curb.

Bob Hope Airport officials attribute drop in parking revenues to more people dropping off at the curb. (Times Community News / July 3, 2012)

Parking revenues plummeted 8.7% at Burbank Bob Hope Airport in May as fewer people used the airfield’s short-term parking structure, officials said.

Parking fees, which make up about 40% of the airport’s operating revenues, came in at roughly $1.5 million in May, compared to about $1.7 million in May 2011, according to a report to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday.

Dan Feger, the airport’s executive director, said officials closely monitor how passengers use the parking facilities.

“One thing that we saw in May that was a little bit disturbing — and to this point still unexplained — was a significant drop in the utilization of the parking structure,” he said.

Airport officials suspect that more people are dropping off passengers in front of the terminal and driving away.

“We have seen quite a bit of additional activity in front of the terminal in the last couple of months,” Feger said.

Officials will keep watching the use of the short-term parking structure for indications that a structural change has occurred in the way people view and use the airfield’s parking facilities.

Airport spokesman Victor Gill said officials always want to give everyone who visits the airport plenty of parking options that fit their needs.

The number of passengers who used Bob Hope Airport was also down in May.

The airport handled 344,566 passengers in May, about a 4.4% decrease from 360,339 the same month a year earlier.

Since January, about 1.66 million passengers have traveled used airfield, a 3.7% decline from the same period last year.

Both the parking revenues and passenger counts were lower than what was budgeted for.

Feger pointed out that when the departure of American Airlines in February was factored in, the numbers look better, especially since the carrier handled about 7.5% of the airport’s passengers.

In fact, the number of passengers that flew Southwest Airlines increased by 4.4% in May, Feger said.

“We think that’s very significant. Southwest moves almost two-thirds of the passengers here,” he said, adding that he thinks the increase is “concrete evidence” that the airport — and the economy in general — is turning around.

Meanwhile, passenger tallies at two of the other airports in the region were down. Ontario Airport saw a 5.7% drop, while Los Angeles International Airport reported a 1.2% dip. The John Wayne Airport improved by 1%.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Twitter: @LAMarkKellam