Staying at home to stop COVID-19 means traveling less, something Long Beach Airport has experienced first-hand.
With passenger numbers down 92% in March, compared to the same month last year, the airport has already taken a financial hit as a result of the coronavirus. But a federal aid package announced today may help soften the blow.
Today, the Federal Aviation Administration announced a $1.08 billion grant package to assist California airports, with $18.4 million going to LGB.
This marks the first significant contribution of funds to the airport’s budget in response to the coronavirus, according to Airport Public Affairs Officer Kate Kuykendall. “These funds will be critical in helping the Airport’s cash flow and current obligations,” Kuykendall said.
According to a city memo release yesterday, officials expect the airport fund to lose $10 million in passenger fee revenues as a result of the pandemic. In addition to lost revenue from passenger fees, some air carriers and other tenants have requested rent relief and deferrals during the pandemic, Kuykendall stated.
“The full impact on Long Beach Airport, and airports across the nation, is still unknown, but will likely last beyond this fiscal year,” she said.
The newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Airport Grant Program has awarded funds to 188 California airports, from regional hubs like Long Beach to international hubs like Los Angeles International Airport.
This comes at a time when airlines are cutting flights across the nation, including in Long Beach. Last week, JetBlue announced a plan that would slash its daily flights to the L.A. region, including Long Beach, by nearly 90%.
“Long Beach Airport is part of our nation’s essential transportation infrastructure,” Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in an email. “Today’s news from the FAA affirms this important role and will provide much-needed financial support not only for the airport, but for the numerous businesses that rely on the economic impact it generates.”