The Volusia County Council approved a request by the airport to wave certain fees for its passenger-reliant tenants.
The Daytona Beach International Airport will utilize $1.7 million of its coronavirus relief dollars to provide financial relief to its impacted airlines and other passenger-reliant tenants.
These funds, accounting for 8.1% of the county's $21 million in coronavirus relief funds by the Federal Aviation Administration, will offset revenue for the airport's tenants by waiving certain fees and providing rental credits. Apart from Delta and American Airlines, tenants such as rental car companies, food and beverage and parking will benefit from the financial accommodations, which were approved by the Volusia County Council at its Oct. 20 meeting.
Rick Karl, county director of aviation and economic resources, said that when the COVID-19 pandemic first impacted air travel, they began speaking with the airlines on how to best help them. Karl said they demonstrated to Delta and American Airlines (two of the three airlines servicing the airport currently) that they were willing to be their partner.
“Without airline service, we don’t have an airport," said Karl to the council.
He attributed their collaboration as a reason why American Airlines announced it would offer daily seasonal service to the Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth airports.
That's not to say that air travel to Daytona Beach International Airport has recovered. Data shared with the council shows that the number of passengers was down 61.2% in August 2020 compared to August 2019. But, it has gotten better, as Airport Director Karen Feaster said the airport hit "rock bottom" in April. The number of total passengers was down 93.5% compared to April of 2019, with April 4 seeing only 68 passengers in and out of the building.
For the month of September, Feaster said the number of total passengers was "only" down 47.6% compared to September 2019.
“It sounds very strange to say we’re only down 47% but in these strange times, that’s positive," Feaster said.
The airport issued a press release shortly after the County Council approved the financial accommodations for the tenants, in which Feaster said the accommodations meet the intent of the FAA's coronavirus relief package to keep airports in "reliable, safe operation to serve the aviation industry, the traveling public, support the economy and to keep airport and aviation workers employed."
The press release also states that a 2019 Florida Department of Transportation report found that the airport has an economic impact of $2.09 billion.
County Councilman Ben Johnson said the airport has been thriving but that the coronavirus has triggered unprecedented times.
“These have been long-term partners and we need to keep them," Johnson said. "Otherwise what happens is we’re going to lose them out of the airport. It’s going to be an empty shell. We cannot take care of our passengers and guests coming through that airport if we don’t do something about this.”