U.S. Airports Expect to Lose At Least $3.7 Billion Because of Steep Decline in Air Travel
WASHINGTON – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) President and CEO Kevin M. Burke today joined the directors of nine American airports for a White House meeting with key administration officials to discuss measures already underway to protect the traveling public and airport employees from the spread of COVID-19 and the economic impact from the sharp drop in air travel.
“North American airports responded swiftly to contain the spread of COVID-19 and continue to take aggressive steps to protect everyone traveling through their facilities,” Burke said. “However, the abrupt decline in air travel resulting from this outbreak will cost U.S. airports at least $3.7 billion this year, and possibly more as people continue to cancel their travel plans. This unexpected shortfall will strain airport operating budgets and potentially disrupt the funding of infrastructure projects already underway.
“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with top administration officials to discuss our coordinated efforts to protect people from COVID-19 and explain how this outbreak will constrain airport budgets moving forward,” Burke continued. “We are grateful for the White House’s leadership on this critical public health and economic issue, and we will continue to work closely with all relevant government agencies and public-health officials to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public and anyone who works in, or passes through, an airport.”
ACI-NA estimates U.S. commercial airports will lose at least $3.7 billion in calendar year 2020, based on preliminary data about flight cancellations. This figure does not include the impact from the recently announced travel restrictions from Europe. Therefore, this figure will more than likely increase. The current estimate is based on the following elements:
- Passenger enplanements are expected to decline by 100 million during the first half of 2020, based on an anticipated 30 percent decrease during the March through June period, and 126 million for the full year.
- Total airport revenue is expected to fall by about $2.5 billion for the first half of the year, representing a nearly 22 percent reduction, and $3.2 billion for the remainder of 2020.
- Collection of the Passenger Facility Charge, an important funding source for U.S. commercial airports, is expected to fall by close to $500 million in 2020.
This comes as the total outstanding debt for U.S. commercial airports stands at roughly $100 billion. U.S. airports also face increasing operating expenses due to increases in custodial costs associated with more frequent cleaning of public areas and restrooms, more and upgraded supplies, extra shifts and staffing, additional hand sanitizers in airport public areas for passengers and employees, and additional education and training for airport employees and contractors.