State House News – Passenger volume at Logan International Airport is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels for at least another two years, and the recovery process could take six years under a worst-case scenario, Massachusetts Port Authority officials said Thursday.
Both air and maritime travel have dropped significantly amid the COVID-19 outbreak. While Massport leaders see rebounds on the horizon, they cautioned during a board meeting that outlooks remain uncertain and that the virus will cause lasting impacts — including budget pressure.
Logan only transported about one-tenth as many passengers in May 2020 as in May 2019, according to figures presented by Massport Aviation Director Ed Freni. Total trips in April and May, Freni said, were “dismal” with volumes at “rock bottom.”
There are signs of progress: the week ending June 8 saw 53 percent more passengers than the week before, and airlines have started to schedule more flights with a bigger uptick expected in mid-July, Freni said.
“We’re really encouraged by that, but we’re not sure how this is going to play out,” he said. “The airlines really can’t share information beyond July. Bookings have changed. People are booking on short notice. There’s still a tremendous no-show factor, so it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen.”
The most likely outcome Massport projects for fiscal year 2021 is slightly more than half as many passengers as fiscal year 2019 and a full recovery that does not begin until the summer of 2022 at the earliest. A worst-case scenario Freni presented would see only 31 percent of fiscal 19 passenger volume in the upcoming fiscal year and a recovery period lasting three to six years.
Massport CEO Lisa Wieland said the airport typically hosts 600 departing flights per day this time of year, but that figure dropped to 100 at the depth of the pandemic.