Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE) will receive approximately $115.18 million in relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by Congress. PHL will receive $115 million, of which $13.7 million will be allocated to its concessions program, and PNE will receive $148,000.
“We are so grateful to Congress for supporting the inclusion of additional COVID-19 relief funding for airports in this package,” said PHL and PNE CEO Chellie Cameron, who serves as Chair of the U.S. Policy Council for Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).
American airports will receive $8 billion, with an additional $800 million carveout for airport concessionaires. Of that amount, $6.492 billion would be reserved for primary airports and certain cargo airports to use for “costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, combating the spread of pathogens at the airport, and debt service payments.”
At PHL and PNE, the American Rescue Plan funding will be used to support airport operations, including covering payroll, paying vendors and paying debt service. Typically, the airport covers its operating costs and generates revenue through tenant leases, parking, concessions and other fees. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a sharp decline in these revenue streams, resulting in an urgent need for federal support.
PHL served 11.9 million passengers in calendar year 2020, a 64% decrease from the 33 million passengers it received in 2019. Airport businesses such as airlines, contractors and concessionaires saw corresponding drops in revenue, resulting in a 21% decrease in airport personnel at PHL based on security badging data. While PHL is forecasting a gradual increase in passenger volume this year, variables such as vaccination rates and travel restrictions remain unpredictable. Current travel industry projections predict that a return to 2019 travel volume will take 3-5 years.
“The next stage of PHL’s recovery relies on the safe and speedy distribution of vaccines across the region, and the world,” said Cameron. “When passengers feel confident about booking air travel, we will be ready to serve them with a safe and clean airport experience.”