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Tulsa International Airport Sees Biggest Travel Day During Pandemic, But Recovery a Long Way off

Tulsa International Airport

While Tulsa International Airport just had its busiest travel weekend of the coronavirus pandemic, executives say they’re not out of the woods.

Around 3,300 passengers came through the security checkpoint last Friday, up from a daily average of about 2,000 in June and July.

The airport’s fiscal year 2020 revenues were down 13% from FY2019, with June 2020 more than 40% below the same month a year ago.

Tulsa International was awarded $15.5 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act. CFO Fabio Spino said they’ve drawn down $5.9 million of that to cover expenses from April through July.

"It looks like we’ll use the bulk of that CARES money by February. We may have, depending on expenses, some carry forward into March, but the bulk of it’s going to be used up by — with February’s expenses," Spino said.

Spino said the airport’s financial situation would be worse if they hadn’t managed to whittle expenses down 8% from the year before. Tulsa International ended FY2020 with 38% fewer passengers than in FY2019.

Tulsa Airports CEO Alexis Higgins said the financial hit from the pandemic hasn’t been as bad as they anticipated, but full recovery is still a long way off and will take help.

"And as Congress goes back into session this week, our focus is really on just continuing to communicate to our representatives about the importance to provide additional support to the industry. Because quite honestly, our airlines have to be able to operate in order for us to continue to provide commercial air service here to our community," Higgins said.

Airlines have been laying off workers and announcing service cuts as the initial Sept. 30 expiration date for CARES Act funding approaches.

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