Things are slowly improving for air service in Shreveport, according to numbers shared during the June 18 Shreveport Airport Authority Board meeting.
Fears over and shutdowns caused by COVID-19 have caused a massive decline in traffic at Shreveport’s airports. However, things seem to be on the uptick.
Numbers for 2021 are estimated to total 60% of 2019’s revenue, based on current capacity numbers.
Shreveport Airport Director Wade Davis noted that while there are flight reductions by all carriers, Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV) crossed the 500 passengers per day mark in early June. That’s a big increase over April’s capacity numbers of 122, but off the pre-COVID average capacity of 1,000.
SHV is only seeing 230 parked cars in May, which is up from 92 parked cars per day in April but still well off the normal 750 cars per day.
“That’s a pretty healthy increase from post-COVID, but it’s a long way from where we were,” Davis added.
May’s total enplanements dropped 85%. 2020 numbers totaled 9,525 compared to 62,707 in May last year. Delta saw the biggest drop among individual air carriers, at 92%.
However, total air carrier enplanements year to date are only down 45%, thanks to heavy traffic in January and February.
Allegiant and Spirit Airlines are running the most of their previous schedule, followed then by American Airlines, Delta, and United on the very low end of the scale.
In July, American Airlines will increase its Charlotte, NC air service to twice per day. DFW is running four to five times per day, United is flying twice per day to Houston, but the Denver, Co. route is suspended. Delta is now flying two times per day to Atlanta, but their previous frequency was five times per day pre-COVID. Allegiant is twice per week as opposed to three times pre-COVID.
Other optimistic data included TSA has shown at 20% of same day travel versus 2019.
Looking at the U.S. as a whole, Davis said air travel is starting to come back in the South and West, while the Northern states are still very slow to increase.
“It’s coming back,” Davis encouraged. “The real answer is coming between July 1 and 15 when the schedule is posted post-Cares Act period.”
During the meeting, the Board also agreed to accept the FAA’s $5.6M Cares Act grant for the Regional Airport and $69,000 grant for the Downtown Airport.
Davis also reiterated the operational changes made at the airports:
- Permanent closure of security gate at Gate 2
- Overtime is reduced
- Security and operations personnel on 12 hours shifts
- Hiring freeze on 34 of 36 positions
- Capital project reductions to preserve $1.3 million
Davis added that the plan proposed in May to consolidate Concourse B into Concourse C and mothballing Concourse C entirely until things improve has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
That move would affect American Airlines and United, which means it requires both of their approval, and Davis said American is optimistic about the future. He also decided not to move forward after individual discussions with the board.
“Bottom line: Things are not back to where they were,” said Davis. “We continue to position ourselves as best we can for the upcoming recovery.”
Problems remain with hangar association
The portion of the meeting for comments from the public featured a letter from Jim Graves, president Shreveport Airport Owner Hangars Association, who had several objections.
Specifically, Board President Jonathan Reynold’s involvement in the meeting and his position as chair is unlawful as Reynolds has not resolved issues related to a court case of improprieties from his appointment. Furthermore, the letter says that Reynolds’ presence in the meeting is an act of “stunning hypocrisy” and if found guilty, the meeting would have been unlawful.
The letter also took exception to the Airport Authority’s item to remit nearly $11,400 due to parties doing business with the Downtown and Regional Airports and write off more than $204,000 of debts because the board’s lack of making these items readable by the public in a timely manner, if not altogether.
Lastly, the letter proposed the new marketing and gift policy is an “abomination” and formalizes wasteful diversion of budget to let Shreveport Airport Authority members attend parties at the public’s expense and says the authority board has squandered “$120,000 in this fashion.”
These comments were publicly echoed and supported by two other hangar owners.
The authority’s legal counsel on the call gave the opinion that the public was effectively notified of the agenda items to be voted on. Reynolds added that specifics relating to the write off agenda item have been released in previous meetings.