Airport Authority: Two-year recovery likely

Photo Courtesy of Shreveport Regional Airport

The Shreveport Airport took a step back in June as the airline industry continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the July Shreveport Airport Authority Board meeting, Shreveport Airport Director Wade Davis noted a Reuters article that forecasts the airline industry is facing a two-year recovery cycle.

Locally, Shreveport has seen flight reductions by all carriers. The airport had an average of 1,000 passengers per day and is only seeing 550 per day as of early July. That is a slight increase over June numbers that were just north of 500.

Looking at the budget, 2020 is forecasted to be 53% of revenue levels from 2019, which is down a little from last month’s outlook at about 60%. That translates into 152,000 annual enplanements for 2020. 

Capacity changes show that Shreveport has seen a 37% decrease while other peer airports —  Lake Charles; Longview, Texas; Monroe; Alexandria; and Tyler, Texas — have seen a 34% decrease.

“You’d think ‘That’s a bad thing.’ It is and it isn’t — it’s bad that the overall numbers are down but the frequency has been maintained at our airport at the expense of capacity. Other airports have lost flights entirely,” Davis explained. “That puts in a better spot than our competition for corresponding recovery.”

His report noted that the majority of changes at Shreveport are in American, United, and Delta reductions. The largest of those is Delta with its service to Atlanta. 

“That’s what is hurting us most,” Davis said.

He noted that airlines are now scheduling month to month.

“We’ve seen some degradation in schedules. August schedule being informed American Airlines posting September schedule at end of the month, confirms posting month to month.”

Davis continued, “What that means is the post Cares Act’s October numbers are not out there at this point. If you look at the schedule beyond August, it means nothing. It’s a ghost schedule the airlines are putting out.”

Flight capacity changes at the Shreveport Regional Airport for August saw no changes for American Airlines. There are no changes for United’s flights to Houston, although Denver is shown but suspended. Delta increased from twice per day to three to four times per day.

American is doing 14 per week to Charlotte, N.C. and 32 per week to Dallas-Ft. Worth. Delta is doing 26 flights to Atlanta. And, Allegiant is consistent with its Las Vegas and Destin, Fla. flights at two per week. United is conducting 13 per week to Houston. Davis noted that going into the budget season, there are no Denver flights for now. 

Davis pointed out it’s “not all doom and gloom.”

He cited there’s still industry optimism from daily TSA checkpoint traveler numbers. July 4th had a peak of 36% of normal operations system wide, which then dropped back down to 28% overall. 

July 13 was the first time since March the airport saw more than 600 passengers in one day, thanks to Las Vegas and Destin flights.

Davis said the bottom line is the Shreveport Airport has still not felt the full impact of what COVID-19 has done to the airline industry. He said the key metric is what that Oct. 1 schedule looks like. 

“Using August numbers and translates into 53% of 2019 levels and going into the budget with, from a revenue perspective,” he said.