Orlando International Airport severely impacted by coronavirus pandemic

Airport officials working to improve consumer confidence

ORLANDO, Fla. – It should be a busy holiday weekend at the Orlando International Airport, but airport officials said air traffic is down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phil Brown, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO, joined Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com” on Sunday to discuss how the airport has been impacted.

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"At one point we were down to 1,500 people a day and 96-97% reduction," Brown said.

Brown said the numbers are slowing picking back up, but it’s nowhere near the number of passengers before the pandemic.

"Our best estimate right now is that at the end of our fiscal year, which is September 30, we'll have about 27 million annual passengers, which will be about 45 to 50% reduction from the prior year," he said.

Brown tells News 6 fewer travelers means major impacts on OIA’s revenue sources.

"72% of our operating revenue from 2019 came from rental cars, parking, and concessions and those have been at minimal levels," Brown said.

He is hopeful that more people will visit Central Florida as the theme parks reopen at partial capacity, including Walt Disney World later this week. But Brown is worried some may choose other ways to travel.

"The decision they're looking at is do I get on an aluminum tube with a bunch of other folks I don't know or do I get in a family car and drive and extra day or two?" he said.

Brown said the airport hopes to gain passengers' trust with robust cleaning, offering contactless transactions, requiring passengers and employees to wear masks, and practicing CDC guidelines. He adds they are doing everything they can to make people feel safe and comfortable.

“Until that consumer confidence with flying is reinstated, re-instilled we expect we’re going to see some uptick but we’re not going to be seeing the kinds of increases that we saw in February or January of this past year,” Brown said.

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