The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it has had its worst quarter of its worst year ever, recording an approximately $777 million drop in revenues in the first half of the year so far, with losses accelerating between late March and June.
The agency forecasts additional losses through the remainder of 2020, it said in a release Thursday, potentially losing $3 billion in revenue by March 2022.
“Due to the global pandemic, Port Authority revenues were down nearly $800 million just through June of this year – an unprecedented number for this agency,” said Chairman Kevin O’Toole in the release. “This region has been hard hit by the pandemic, and the Port Authority was not immune.”
The losses came from precipitous drops in traffic and passenger travel as New York and the region went into shelter-in-place as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.
At the peak of the city’s COVID-19 crisis in mid-April, airport traffic had fallen over 98 percent compared to that same period in 2019 according to the Port Authority, which manages LaGuardia, Kennedy, and Newark airpots, in addition to the area seaports, bridges, and tunnels.
PATH commuter rail ridership fell 94 percent; vehicular traffic on the bridges and in the tunnels dropped by 64 percent and truck traffic by 36 percent.
“This collapse in traveler volume continues to produce enormous revenue declines for the agency, with current estimates showing the Port Authority will have a reduction in revenue of approximately $3 billion due to the coronavirus crisis. The outlook for the aviation sector has worsened in recent weeks given the explosion of Covid-19 cases across the country and the impact on air travel,” the Port Authority said in the release.
“The Port Authority’s second quarter financial performance is the worst downturn in the Port Authority’s recent history – perhaps in its entire history, and certainly since World War II,” said Executive Director Rick Cotton, who also contracted COVID-19 in March and recovered. “This decline was completely driven by revenue losses resulting from the precipitous decline in volumes at the agency’s facilities across the region. We continue to tirelessly advocate for federal aid to offset the damage that the revenue loss will inflict on the agency’s Capital Plan.”
The Port Authority is asking the federal government for immediate and direct help to the tune of $3 billion -- “to avoid the impact of sharp revenue losses to the agency’s critically important capital construction projects.”
“Without federal assistance, the Port Authority and the region will be forced to feel the weight of this loss for years to come,” O’Toole said.
One of the imperiled capital projects is the controversial $2 billion LaGuardia Airport AirTrain project, Streetsblog reports. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this week she opposes any federal stimuli spending on the proposed AirTrain until community concerns are resolved, telling the Daily News that “until such time as a new route is identified, or the community’s concerns are sufficiently alleviated, no federal COVID-19 relief funding should be granted to the Port Authority for the purpose of constructing the AirTrain.”