Memphis airport budget impacted by loss of passengers from COVID-19

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A traveler checks in at Memphis International Airport in March, 2020.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority approved a budget Thursday that reflects the deep impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on air travel.

The airport’s revenues for the upcoming fiscal year are projected to be down 23.6% compared to the previous year, a result of reduced air travel, parking and other passenger revenue, the authority said.

No employees will be furloughed or laid off, the airport said, but there will be no wage increases and some vacant positions will not be filled.

The loss of revenue is offset by $24.7 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government, $1 million in surplus funds that will carry over from FY2020, and $9.5 million in debt service coverage, the airport authority said.

The $120 million operating budget is a $4.3 million decrease from the previous year. The airport authority receives no local tax revenue from Memphis or Shelby County.

An airport official said in late March that passenger travel at Memphis International Airport had decreased 85%, mirroring national trends.

While the pandemic is hitting passenger travel, airport officials said Memphis’ cargo business has been impacted to a lesser extent, thanks to the presence of FedEx.

“While the future is uncertain, MSCAA is financially sound and is keeping costs as low as possible for our airlines and tenants, who are also dealing with the financial effects of COVID-19. While it will take time, MEM is well positioned to be a leader in the aviation industry’s recovery,” said Pace Cooper, Chairman of the MSCAA Board of Commissioners.

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