LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It could take three to four years for the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport to fully recover from the $29 million hit the pandemic took on its budget in 2020.
The airport was coming off a record year in 2019 when the pandemic began. In April, operations came to virtually a complete halt. Officials laid off around 11 employees and canceled most non-stop flights out of its gates.
Airport officials have started adding some of the direct flights back onto the map, including most recently, trips to Charleston and Fort Myers beginning in May.
“We think New York will come back soon as the shots get in peoples’ arms,” Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority said. “That one will probably be the first to come back. LAX, that’s a tougher sell for us.”
Mann told reporters travel has picked up slowly, but he believes the vaccine will be the catalyst to encourage more people to fly.
“If people feel comfortable going to the basketball arena, they’ll certainly feel comfortable going to the airport and taking a trip,” Mann said. “That’s why these 100 million vaccines in 100 days, UPS delivering those across the country and around the world, it’ll be a game changer.”
Mann credited the UPS Worldport and a “rainy day fund” as the reasons the airport was able to survive financially.