MANCHESTER, N.H. – Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) appears to have weathered the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is not quite out of the woods yet.
In the airport’s Fiscal Year ’21 Third Quarter Update on Monday night, MHT Director Theodore Kitchens provided the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) Special Committee on Airport Activities, with a look back at the airport’s struggles over the past year as well as what comes next.
As the one-year anniversary of pandemic’s initial impact on MHT draws closer, Kitchens was cautiously optimistic on the airport’s recovery to normal, with 18,000 more year-to-date anticipated passenger enplanements than his projected “slow recovery” model, the nearest projection to reality among the four he put forward last April.
Fortunately, Kitchens says he adjusted his budgetary planning to align with the “slow recovery model,” allowing the airport to retain a net revenue surplus of $1.8 million as of December 2020. This revenue surplus came from year-over-year operating expense reductions of just over $3 million as well as federal assistance from the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Relief and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, combining for approximately $12.5 million.
The CARES Act and CRRSA Act funding is set to expire in October 2021, but additional federal funding is expected from the $1.9 trillion America Rescue Plan that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
In recent months, MHT was also recognized as the 15th airport in the world with a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Star certification, the cleaning industry’s only accreditation specifically geared toward cleaning and disinfection protocols regarding infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Currently, no other airports in New England are even attempting to obtain the certification, let alone hold it.
Following the presentation, Committee Chairman Michael Porter (Ward 8) specifically praised Kitchens for the airport’s cleanliness.
“We always knew that we were clean, but someone else coming in and saying it is powerful,” said Kitchens.
Kitchens also highlighted a number of upcoming changes and renovations to the airport, highlighted by a new cargo hangar coming in the next few years. He told the committee that new hangar will not interfere with the airport’s terminal, which currently has seven vacant gates. He added that expansion of the current terminal would not be needed until the airport reaches approximately 6 to 7 million passengers per year. Currently, the airport sees approximately 1.6 million passengers per year.
In addition to the additional revenue coming from the new cargo hangar, Kitchens also provided details on new leasing agreements for a property owned by the airport just off Brown Avenue near I-293 as well as an agreement with Prime Automotive Group to store cars at Parking Lot C for $5,000 per month.
Upcoming infrastructure improvements at the airport include an upcoming fire alarm replacement, several taxiway reconfigurations and a new escalator.
A full copy of the presentation can be found below.