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Airports Ask For More Federal Money As Passenger Numbers Slump

An aerial shot of Tampa International Airport.
Tampa International Airport

The number of passengers flying in and out Tampa International Airport in 2020 was the lowest in almost 30 years, according to data compiled by the Tampa Bay Times. There were also fewer flyers at airports in St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

Airports cover their operating costs with passenger fees and revenue from shops and restaurants.

But the pandemic slump in travel led Tampa International Airport to cut its budget by about $9 million last year. Food service companies laid off hundreds of workers. That came even though Tampa received about $80 million from the federal CARES Act and more money from the stimulus package approved by Congress just before Christmas.

The Airports Council International-North America says U.S. airports are on track to lose $23 billion by March, as passenger numbers stay below pre-pandemic levels. Additional federal cash could be part of the Biden Administration's economic recovery plan, which will be unveiled in February.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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