Travel traffic rebounds at Amarillo airport, but recovery is still not complete

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - More and more people are flying in and out of the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

“Right now, we’re at about 100 percent of our normal traffic,” said Michael Conner, director of aviation.

Last year, the airport experienced a 95 percent decline in annual traffic.

“March of 2020 was really bad for us,” said Conner. “We had very little revenue coming in.”

Although the move towards recovery started back in June of 2020, the big rebound didn’t happen until summer of this year.

“In June and July, we actually exceeded our 2019 numbers so, we were doing more than a thousand people a day,” said Conner.

Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) have been a lifeline for the airport.

According to the Amarillo National Bank, $10 million in stimulus money have been assigned to the airport and used to cover personnel and maintenance requirements.

“We didn’t had to lay anyone off,” said Conner. “The stimulus funds have really helped us to survive from a cash flow stand point and an operational stand point.”

While more families are getting in the air for leisure travel, the lack of business class customers is hurting airlines.

“We’re kind of in a strange position, because we haven’t really seen the business traffic return yet,” said Conner. “So, companies like all the rental car companies here, they’re still really suffering because people aren’t coming here for business. They’re not renting cars and we usually get revenue from those rental car companies.”

The airport is still receiving some of the stimulus money and other federal grants.

They are currently working on completing the reconstruction of taxiways Juliet and Papa 4, which are expected to be completed before the end of November.

The stimulus money is not being used for such reconstruction.

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