MSP Airport operator expecting $120M federal support after historic drop in traffic

Flights and passenger numbers have plunged at the Twin Cities Airport.
Publish date:

The organization that operates Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is expecting to get a slice of $120 million from the federal bailout fund for the nation's air industry.

Brian Ryks, the CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, says the airport has experienced an historic downturn in flight and passenger traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter he released on Monday, he says that revenues for the airport and the many businesses based there having dried up, but that help is arriving in the short-term at least in the form of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act .

"While we don’t know the specific share of aid the MAC will receive, we anticipate it will exceed $120 million," Ryks said, though he notes that while this will help the MAC pay off debt and assist with its cash flow, it's only a temporary fix.

"With all our major revenue sources only generating a small percentage of budgeted revenues, long term it won’t be enough," he said, noting he will continue to work with Minnesota's elected officials to see if more support could be provided.

Ryks also shared some of the remarkable details of how traffic has dropped at the airport.

Since the onset of COVID-19, airlines have suspended 94 routes from MSP, with a number stopping service temporarily, or planning to, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air France, Condor, JetBlue, KLM and Spirit.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers screened at its security checkpoints has fallen 95 percent compared to a year ago, while passengers are only using about 2 percent of MSP's parking capacity.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Inside, just 21 of MSP's 75 restaurants and bars remain open, while 9 out of 52 retail stores are open, and those that are open are operating on severely reduced demand.

"It is clear from MSP’s empty parking ramps, roadways, ticketing lobbies and concourses that people who don’t need to travel are heeding the call to stay home," Ryks said.

Despite the funding squeeze, the MAC says it's taking advantage of the quiet period by pushing ahead with the modernization of Terminal 1, which is halfway through a 6-year project.

"By moving forward with that construction now, when comparatively few people are occupying those spaces, we are also able to reduce construction impacts to travelers later, when large numbers of eager travelers return, as well as preserving construction jobs," Ryks said.

Next Up

coronavirus, masks, covid-19

Wisconsin Republicans aim to end governor's mask mandate

They've introduced a resolution to remove the governor's emergency powers.

Ted Schweich

Community group hopes to install billboard to get neighbor a kidney

A group called "Team Ted" aims to raise $5,000 to find their friend a kidney donor.

Andrew Palmer

Charges: Coach raped teenage girl on Minnesota basketball team

The 33-year-old head coach has been charged in connection to the alleged crimes.

radio station, microphone

WCCO Radio's program director leaves the company

It's not clear why John Hanson and the station parted ways.

Minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis a step closer to banning facial recognition technology

There are concerns about it leading to a surveillance state, and that it could harm disadvantaged communities.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 22

Nearly 50,000 Minnesotans have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

police lights

Police recover more than 14 pounds of meth, 4,000 pills during drug bust

Three people have been arrested and charged in connection to the drugs.

Gopher hockey

Gophers respond to drop in rankings with 10-goal outburst

It had been 17 years since the Gophers last scored 10 goals in a game.


Winter storm watch issued where snow could exceed 6 inches in MN

Snow will spread from west to east starting Saturday morning in western Minnesota.


MSP Airport had a record number of passengers in 2018

It just beat the previous record, set in 2017.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 1.48.54 PM

MSP Airport named best in North America for 4th year in a row

The Twin Cities airport is the best for its size in the U.S.

Ex-Delta CEO praises MSP Airport as one of the best in the world

What does the future hold for the Twin Cities airport?

MSP temporarily loses its flights to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Reykjavik

The government has imposed a travel ban on flights to mainland Europe.

Equipment failure leads to long lines at MSP Airport

Passengers were advised to turn up 2.5 hours before their flight.

airport security

MSP Airport will require face masks be worn in public spaces

Airlines already require travelers wear masks on planes.

Delta plans direct flights between MSP and Shanghai

It would give the Twin Cities its first direct route into China.