Huntsville International Airport hit hard due to COVID-19 concerns
HUNTSVILLE – Passenger traffic at Huntsville International Airport is less than one-tenth of its normal level because of the coronavirus pandemic, but officials hope to get some relief from the federal stimulus package.
Airports nationwide are reeling as business and leisure travel plummet because of COVID-19 concerns.
At the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at Huntsville International Airport, personnel are screening about 100 travelers a day, less than 10 percent of normal traffic, said Jana Kuner, the airport’s public relations manager.
Previously, “we had between 60 to 70 flights a day and about half of those will be canceled, depending on the day of the week,” she said. Passengers “can fly to the same destinations, but they have fewer options. Instead of four to five flights a day to a destination, there may be two flights.”
The airport is curtailing expenses, and operating in a “mission critical” mode, she said. “We’re just trying to operate the airport and preserve jobs” as well as keeping employees and passengers safe.
Airport officials are projecting the facility will lose 75% of expected revenue in the next three months alone, meaning a revenue loss of from $7 million to $10 million, according to Kuner.
All other revenue-producing areas of airport operations like car rental, the Four Points by Sheraton hotel and parking are also hurting.
“The parking deck is empty because there’s nobody parking, there’s nobody flying,” she said.
The federal $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help U.S. businesses, workers and health care system hard-hit by the pandemic includes $10 billion for publicly owned commercial airports.
Kuner said the Federal Aviation Administration will distribute that money, and the American Association of Airport Executives is urging the FAA to distribute the funding to airports as quickly as possible and with as much flexibility as possible.
In a release last week, Huntsville International said that the near-term infusion of payroll grants and guaranteed loans for airlines that the legislation provides will help avoid furloughs and allow airlines like the ones that serve Huntsville International Airport to maintain the “ready status” needed to immediately get air service capacity ramped up as the economy recovers.
From The Decatur Daily