May 27, 2020
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US airports stand to lose nearly $14B with ongoing travel restrictions, new estimates find

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
An American Eagle flight takes off from Bangor International Airport in March 2019.

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Federal limitations on international travel and coronavirus concerns among consumers deepened the potential losses U.S. airports are expected to suffer because of the pandemic.

President Donald Trump put a 30-day limitation on travel from Europe to the United States starting March 13. And on Thursday, the U.S. State Department urged Americans not to travel overseas and to return to the United States if they can. The Level 4 advisory against international travel is unprecedented and is the department’s most severe warning, according to Politico.

Canceled flights and other lost business are expected to cost U.S. airports at least $13.9 billion this year, Airports Council International —- North America said Friday. That’s more than triple the council’s estimate last week of a $3.7 billion loss.

“Our loss estimates are getting worse by the day as airports grapple with this abrupt, unexpected decline in passenger and cargo travel,” council president and CEO Kevin Burke said. “We fully expect these numbers to deteriorate even more as the financial pressure mounts on airports across the U.S. That is why we have asked for federal help so airports get through this unprecedented virtual shutdown in American aviation.”

The council represents local, regional and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. It did not break out airport data by state.

The council said it based its estimates on the 244 million fewer people who are expected to board airplanes in the first half of this year, down 53 percent compared to the same time period in 2019. For the full year, that number is 349 million, down 37 percent.

Total airport operating revenue is expected to decrease by $12.3 billion in 2020, down 49 percent over the previous year because of cancellations and other reductions in domestic and international air travel. Non-aeronautical revenue also will be down dramatically.

The council said collection of the passenger facility charge, an important funding source for U.S. commercial airports, is expected to fall by close to $1.6 billion in 2020. That estimate is more than triple the $500 million loss the council estimated only last week.


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