Huntsville International Airport expects large revenue loss due to pandemic

Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 10:31 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville International Airport reports that operations have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the airport receives updates from the airlines monthly, there are no specific number to report at this time. However, public relations manager Jana Kuner said “other indicators are available and the projections are grim.”

Last week, the airport reported that parking numbers were down approximately 30 percent as compared to the same week in the previous year. This week, the parking numbers are down 86 percent from the same week the previous year.

The Transportation Security Administration reports the volume of people coming through the checkpoint is down between 65-70 percent this week.

Kuner said all other areas of airport operations, such as car rental companies, the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, concessions, the airport advertising program, Signature Flight Support, and the airlines are seeing large volume declines.

“At this time Huntsville International Airport is projecting that we will lose 75% of expected revenue in the next 3 months alone,” Kuner said in a news release. “That is a $7-$10 million revenue loss in just a matter of 3 months and this loss will continue to grow the longer the pandemic lasts. Because of these projections adjustments have been made to operations and our organization is acting in a mission critical mode. This means reducing expenses while also continuing to operate the airport as efficiently as possible. We have three top priorities: 1) the safety of our employees and passengers; 2) continuing to serve this community; and 3) preserving jobs.”

The airport industry as a whole is seeing severe impacts from the pandemic. Some estimates indicate that U.S. commercial airports could lose billions in 2020.

“Airlines for America has asked the federal government for over $50 billion in financial assistance for airlines and there has been open dialogue and discussion of this, however, the airports are where the airlines operate and just as the airlines are impacted so are the airports”, said Kuner. “(Airport Council International-North America) and the American Association of Airport Executives have asked that the federal government take immediate steps to ensure that airports also have resources needed to deal with the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has posed in the form of $10 billion in emergency assistance. This is because operational expenses for the airports have continued even as we have seen drastic reductions in passengers traveling through and therefore revenue. The airport can’t cease operation or close the facility so our costs continue and without assistance during this time of extreme economic stress the outlook will be dire. In addition to continued operational costs HSV has even received requests from one carrier to not adjust fees and to hold invoices for monies already owed to the airport. In essence, we are taking a hit on both sides so help is not just needed, but necessary.”

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