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April report shows COVID-19 impacts at ECP airport

Board members gathered at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport for their monthly...
Board members gathered at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport for their monthly meeting Wednesday to hear the news. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 4:49 PM CDT
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Board members gathered at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport for their monthly meeting Wednesday to hear the news.

“We are having a pretty severe impact. Fortunately we are financially in a good position, we have a good cash reserve,” said Del Lee, chairman of the Airport Authority Board for Panama City Beach.

COVID-19’s impact totals about $200,000 year to date at the airport. Parker McClellan, executive director of the airport said, “so this year we reported a little over 6,000 passengers in the month of April in 2020. Last April of 2019 it was just under 114,000.”

Along with fewer passengers flying in, the demographic looks slightly different too. “Elderly are the ones that are more susceptible and I think that they are taking the precautions that they should, but families seem to be coming out,” said Lee.

Despite the inactivity report for the month of April there seemed to be a lot of activity for the month of May on Wednesday, but one thing that hasn’t slowed down is construction.

“Progress was not slowed at all. I mean it possibly was easier for the construction to take place because there was fewer people here,” said Lee.

McClellan said, “we put several projects on hold, but the terminal expansion we continue moving forward with that. We anticipate that will be completed in June, late June of this year.”

Several flights servicing our area were also put on hold.

“So American and Southwest have both later this month are bringing back additional flights and then in June and July they’re going to continue to grow. I anticipate that Delta and United will be doing the same thing,” said McClellan.

But in order to grow demand, airport leaders say they are focused on creating passenger confidence. “Just know that we’re here and we are doing everything we can to make you feel comfortable and have a safe trip," said Lee.

The airport will also receive $6 million in Cares Act money that will help offset losses from COVID-19, but in the meantime the airport will have to pinch pennies and cut costs where it can.

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