Airport officials have hope for future development at TF Green despite decrease in travel

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Like across the country, travel levels at T.F. Green Airport have declined in recent months due to the pandemic.

Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) leaders gave some insight about this in an online meeting Thursday morning and are hopeful about bouncing back.

In his report to the board of directors, RIAC President and CEO Iftikhar Ahmad said COVID-19 has significantly impacted the airport corporation.

While the airport saw growth of 2.8% in January and 4.8% in February, in March, T.F. Green saw a 53% decline, compared to March 2019. The average load factor was 51% compared to 87% the year before.

Ahmad stated April saw a 96.9% decline compared to April 2019. April’s report brought the year-to-date passenger count to 726,232, a decline of 40%.

Like all U.S. airports, RIAC believes it will see a significant decline in numbers until next February, but Ahmad was still optimistic.

“In May and June, we have started to close the gap. Recently, we have noticed trends by the airlines to add more seats, but the second wave has had a damping effect at any attempts at a quick recovery in the industry,” Ahmad said. “The good news is that RIAC has strong liquidity and thus will be able to make it through this rough patch.”

As of June 30, RIAC reports passenger volume at T.F. Green Airport was nearing 20% of pre-COVID-19 levels, reflecting trends seen at other airports throughout the nation.

As passenger volume approaches 70% of 2019 levels, RIAC says it plans on issuing a new Request for Proposal seeking a long-term agreement for two restaurants.

Right now, T.F. Green has two Dunkin’ locations in each concourse, the second only open as of July 1. There are some limited retail operations in the South and North Concourse providing snacks, beverages, gifts, and other amenities for travelers.

RIAC also received $24M in CARES Act funding to help airlines deal with rates and charges. Staff is also working to submit for reimbursement of COVID-19 expenditures with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ahmad also reported all previous seven airlines under contract at the airport have signed one year extensions through June of next year.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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