Pandemic Trips to Logan International Airport
BOSTON – As pandemic-era restrictions ease across the country and mostly end in Massachusetts, Logan International Airport experienced its busiest passenger month since the COVID-19 strike, but remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
More than 1.74 million passengers passed through Logan in May, according to Massachusetts Port Authority data detailed at a board meeting last week. This is a 22% increase from April, but still 55% below the same period in 2019. Logan deployed 19,407 aircraft in May, a 14% increase from April but by 49% below May 2019.
For the week ending June 20, the highest number of passengers have been screened – around 262,000 – since mid-April 2020, according to data from the quasi-public agency.
“The numbers are heading in the right direction,” said Ed Freni, director of Massport Aviation. “But I just want to stress the fact that we are still significantly below where we were in 2019.”
The capacity of domestic airlines is returning faster than international traffic, said Massport CFO John Pranckevicius, which could slow progress towards a full recovery. According to data from Massport, 62% of national capacity has been restored compared to only 38% of international capacity.
All of this comes as officials at Massport described a dramatic shift in customer mix with June 2021 showing 95% of passengers were flying for leisure and only 5% for business. Comparatively, 60% of passengers traveled for leisure and 40% for business in June 2019, according to the data.
Massport board member Laura Sen said that with the changing mix of travelers, “our whole economy will change.”
âNot just the parking, but the concessions, which airlines are going to experience in the face of people’s desire for more promotional prices, and so on,â Sen said at the meeting. “So I just put this on the table as a challenge that we need to consider as we reflect on how the traveling public will be a different behavior mix from a much heavier business traveler mix.”
Board member Warren Fields said it was wise to assume business travel was reduced, but added that he was not yet convinced they would be permanently affected.
“It’s a little too early to make this statement, but it’s clear that in the short term business travel is going to be cut,” Fields said. “So I would just maintain my judgment that this has a permanent impact, but that’s just a nuance.”
As Logan International Airport and other Massport properties gradually experience growth in business activity, officials said the fiscal gap for fiscal 2022 has grown to $ 40 million. The agency will still have to rely on federal funding to eliminate the deficit, officials said.
Pranckevicius presented an operating budget for fiscal year 2022 that spends around $ 725 million with expected revenues of $ 685 million. Massport faced a deficit of around $ 113 million in its 2021 fiscal budget, according to Pranckevicius’ presentation.
âAs we have started to consider what we have in store for this coming year, it is clear that business activity is improving. We have been able to mitigate some of the disruption and decision making that we have had to make over the past 12-14 months. and start looking at other strategic elements and priorities to create meaningful change, âsaid Pranckevicius. “… With the increase in business activity, our margins improve.”
Pranckevicius said that in fiscal 2020, 42 million passengers, 164,000 containers and 400,000 cruise passengers generated more than $ 900 million in revenue. In the FY2021 budget, Pranckevicius said Massport experienced a “significant decline in business activity” that resulted in a loss of revenue of $ 300 million.
âAs we look to 2022, with the increase in activity, we are forecasting and projecting a passenger count of 18.5 millionâ¦ around 140,000 containers,â he said. “The cruise industry is going to take a little longer to recover and is not contributing as much to our financial plan.”
Airlines are also rescheduling flights to popular destinations, Freni said, with Southwest Airlines adding Kansas City service from Logan starting in early November and Spirit Airlines adding Miami service starting in mid-November.
“And even more important than that we have seen some key markets open up internationally with additional service, but we are waiting for the UK and EU to open so we can start to see more of passengers travel in this direction, âsaid Freni.
American Airlines, however, has experienced staffing “struggles” in recent weeks, Freni said, adding that the Fort Worth-based company was not the only airline facing problems. He said Delta, Southwest and United have also experienced staff issues.
But some are starting to bring back crews and hire new pilots, Freni said. American Airlines hired 100 people last month and JetBlue hired 100 people in the past two weeks, the aviation director told the board.
âUntil they increase their numbers, that will have an impact on schedules. In fact, American has announced that they will be reducing their schedule in July, overall their schedule, by about 1% – minimal impact here. at Logan, but it’s a trend that continues now, âsaid Freni.