Nashville International Airport has seen a staggering decline in passengers — a roughly 95% drop in air travel.
Last year, BNA had around 50,000 passengers coming through each day. Now, it’s less than a couple thousand.Tom Jurkovich, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, describes it as a “deep, dramatic, almost astounding decline.”
“I’m in the airport as we speak, and it is almost vacant,” Jurkovich told WPLN News. He says that massive drop in traffic means much less money is coming from the usual sources.
“Concessions, the airlines pay us fees, parking, car rental. … You have no passengers, you have no revenue.”
Five airlines, including Air Canada and British Airways, have temporarily suspended operations.The airport has also closed one of its two security checkpoints and three of its parking lots.
Jurkovich says the airport authority will receive $55 million as part of the federal CARES Act, the emergency measure passed by Congress last month to try to lessen the pandemic’s sting to the economy. But the drop in traffic means BNA will likely make cuts — it’s just not clear how deep. Jurkovich says the authority is not currently anticipating any furloughs or layoffs for the 330 people it directly employs.
One thing that’s not in jeopardy: the airport’s major expansion program. “BNA Vision” will continue largely as planned. That’s because the project was funded using bonds, so it’s not as dependent on daily air travel.
Jurkovich says the authority is trying to be optimistic.
“The airport, and the city and the region will once again boom in terms of growth and job creation and economic activity,” he says. “It’s only a question of when.”