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ABQ Sunport Outlines Revenue Outlook and Plans for COVID-19 Recovery

City leaders provide overview of COVID-19’s impact to the Sunport and steps towards recovery

May 13, 2020

Today, Mayor Keller and Director of Aviation Nyika Allen outlined the unprecedented impacts to the aviation industry as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Operating as an enterprise fund, the Aviation Department relies on passenger traffic to generate revenue. With recent commercial passenger numbers down as much as 97% and a predicted slow recovery, the projected revenue loss from fiscal year 2020 to 2022 is estimated at $31 million.

The Albuquerque International Sunport is receiving over $19,700,000 of CARES Act grant money to help with these financial impacts. The funds are part of nearly $10 billion allocated to over 3,000 U.S. airports for the preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are not dispersed as a lump sum – the Sunport will pay the expenses upfront, then submit reimbursement documentation to the FAA for approval. Before any specific allocations are made, a detailed plan must be approved by the Albuquerque City Council.

“This funding plays a crucial role for the financial recovery of the Sunport, which like the tourism industry has been devastated by COVID-19,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “At this time, the extent to which CARES Act grant money will cover long-term lost revenue is unclear, so we’re taking a layered approach depending on the scope and rate of recovery. The department relies on passengers to generate revenue, so these factors will determine if additional action is needed down the line.”

The Sunport has also put in place many new preventative measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep passengers safe. The enhanced cleaning and sanitization schedule established in March will remain in place indefinitely. The terminal will be disinfected nightly, in addition to the enhanced cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas. Plexiglass dividers on all counter spaces and social distancing markings on floors in queuing areas are being installed, and seating throughout hold areas has been reduced.

“We have been working diligently on these recovery plans since the early stages of this pandemic,” said Nyika Allen, Director of Aviation for the City of Albuquerque. “We would like to thank our City leaders and Federal delegation for their dedicated work in successfully securing these much-needed funds. While the total impact of this public health emergency is still unfolding, this funding will help save jobs, continue our essential operations, and recoup increased costs related to critical COVID-19 prevention and response measures.”

Owned and operated by the City of Albuquerque’s Aviation Department, The Albuquerque International Sunport is New Mexico’s largest commercial airport, welcoming over 5 million passengers each year. Served by 8 major carriers, the Sunport offers non-stop service between ABQ and more than 20 destinations, all with worldwide connectivity. The Albuquerque International Sunport is the Gateway of New Mexico.