QC International Airport losing millions in pandemic

4 The Record

Airline losses have domino effect

The first full week of 2021 ended with a lot of soul searching after a very dark day.

The attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump is still hard to believe.

Five people died.

Dozens arrested.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chau and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned from the president’s cabinet, blaming the president for inciting the riot.

Some right wing groups tried to blame antifa for being behind the invasion.

That conspiracy theory debunked by tracing images posted on social media to members of QAnon and the white supremacist group the Proud Boys — both overt supporters of the president.

Now President Trump says he will not go to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

We also can’t ignore the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic.

Airlines have seen a drastic drop in business.

Passenger loads are off more than 50 percent nationally during the pandemic.

There’s more than $80 billion in lost revenue for the airline industry.

That leads to a direct domino effect on airports.

Count the Quad City International Airport among them.

Although there has been some relief from the federal government, big plans to expand airport services, add new airlines and add new destinations were all forced to be put on hold until the public health crisis subsides.

We’ve seen the economic toll the pandemic has taken on local governments, restaurants and everything related to travel.

Airlines have been decimated.

Airports are struggling too and the Quad City International Airport’s challenges precede the pandemic.

We talked about that this week on 4 The Record with Ben Leischner, the executive director of the airport.

Air traffic data from an industry consulting firm indicates airlines in 2020 provided 49 percent fewer flights than they did the year before that.

The TSA reports a 61 percent drop in passengers nationally.

Leischner shared how consistent that is with what he saw at the Quad City International Airport, what kind of a drop we had in flights and passengers locally and how hard that hit the airport financially.

The latest pandemic relief package provides $2 billion in relief for airports and the businesses that operate in them. 

Leischner discussed what he will be able to do with that money, how much of it the airport might see and how much he expects it to offset the losses he’s seen since March.

Watch the full conversation in the video above.

Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you.  It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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