Travel notes: Philadelphia airports get $115 million in Rescue funds; Icelandair returns to BWI next year


Philadelphia International Airport 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 the smaller airport  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.

American airports will receive $8 billion, with an additional $800 million carveout for airport concessionaires.

As anyone who has recently flown knows, many concessions remain closed or operate with limited hours.

At the two airports,  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.

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 While the airport is forecasting a gradual increase in passenger volume this year, variables such as vaccination rates and travel restrictions remain unpredictable.

Travel industry projections predict that a return to 2019 travel volume will take three to five  years, although surges have been seen in the past couple of months that took some by surprise.

Icelandair returning to BWI

Icelandair  will relaunch seasonal service between Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Reykjavik, Iceland, starting May 13, 2022.
The airline will operate four weekly roundtrip flights through October.
Icelandair’s hub in Reykjavik offers connections to markets across Europe. The airline will provide the new service between BWI Marshall Airport and Iceland with Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
“Iceland is now open to all vaccinated U.S. passengers, and Europe is beginning to open their borders, as well,” said Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO for Icelandair. “We are pleased to return to Baltimore/Washington International Airport with nonstop flights to Iceland and beyond. Our return shows the promising future of air travel and our commitment to better serve the Baltimore-Washington area. We look forward to offering travelers more options when traveling to Europe and welcoming BWI aboard again.”
Passenger traffic has grown steadily in recent months at BWI Marshall Airport.
The largest carrier at BWI is Southwest Airlines, which has been adding cities to its route system during the pandemic. New nonstops for Southwest from BWI  include Myrtle Beach, SC; Destin and Miami, FL: and Chicago O’Hare.
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