The coronavirus mostly brings terrible news, but one thing it has done is loosen significantly the purse strings of the federal government, which has been helping out not only individuals and businesses but also airports – including Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA).
The airport that serves this region of North Carolina, like other airports across the country, has had revenues savaged by a huge drop in flights and passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it can really use an additional $2 million and change that’s coming in a new round of federal funding meant to help beleaguered airports.
PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker had been hoping the airport would get the additional funds but he wasn’t certain of it until a few days ago. On Wednesday, May 6, Baker confirmed PTIA would be a fortunate recipient in a new federal funding round.
“We understand we’re getting $2.2 million,” Baker said, adding that the money would be “designated for some terminal work.”
In April, PTIA received over $16 million from the federal government as part of another relief package in response to the pandemic.
PTIA has been conducting some major projects, including repairing and renovating the plaza parking area and roadway in front of the departures and arrivals area, upgrading the parking ticketing system to a new high-tech version and renovating the main building.
Those are all nice things to do, but they all cost money and those grand plans were made before PTIA was blindsided by the COVID-19 crisis, which took a huge chunk out of the airport’s revenue stream. In March, the number of passengers using the airport dropped by over half, compared to March of 2019, and the April numbers, which should be out later this month, are expected to be even uglier when they’re released.
The airport has been able to make a little extra money by renting space out to airlines that need a place to park their planes, but being a plane parking lot doesn’t generate anywhere near the revenue that being a vibrant air travel hub does.