BLOUNTVILLE — COVID-19 is affecting the bottom line at Tri-Cities Airport.
“Revenue streams which are sensitive to the decreased level of passengers in air traffic and scheduled flights reflect mixed results,” Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey said as part of a packet of information submitted to Airport Authority commissioners on the Administration/Operations Committee during a Zoom meeting on Thursday.
“Airline revenues are down 4.6% compared to the original operating budget. Rental car revenue reflects a decrease of 4.5%. Parking revenue reflects a decrease of 49.8%.”
As a result, the airport’s 2021 revenue is down more than $1 million, but that’s being covered by $2.5 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) Act funding from the federal government.
“We’re not in the red. We’re in the black,” Cossey noted.
The airport’s 2021 budget showed about $5.5 million in revenues against $6.6 million in expenses.
All totaled, the airport was awarded $10.3 million in CARES Act funds.
The airport, Cossey also pointed out, executed a number of spending reductions due to a decreased flight schedule and postponed marketing programs.
A first draft of the 2022 operating budget showed a $7.1 million spending plan, operating losses of between 10-20 % and drawing another $3 million in CARES Act funds.
It also showed no proposed increases in rates and charges.
Cossey stressed the region needs to be promoted as a destination.
“The (planned Bristol) casino will help that,” Cossey told commissioners.
The airport has been known as primarily a business travel airport, but Cossey said that is changing.
“(Travelers are) switching from business to leisure travel,” he said.
“They’re not traveling as much but they are working from home and home can be anywhere so they are combining leisure trips with work and working from anywhere. We see a lot of our frequent travelers and cars in the parking lot. We see them traveling even if they are not traveling for business.”