ORLANDO, FL. – The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) Board reviewed several issues affecting operations at Orlando International Airport (MCO) at today’s virtual board meeting. In addition to updates on internal measures being taken to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the airport community, the Board received construction progress reports from the Central Florida Expressway Authority and Virgin Trains USA.
At its April meeting, the Board approved a plan to offer airport partners relief options to defer or waive a portion of their fees due to the downturn in business from COVID-19. Today, Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown updated the Board with the vendors’ response.
Subject to certain conditions, airlines, concessionaires and rental car companies were offered 90-day deferrals or waivers of specific fees or costs. The deadline to apply for the relief was June 15th. As of July 7th, seven passenger airlines, one cargo carrier, one rental car company and 21 concessionaires met the requirements and accepted the offer. The total financial impact was $15,349,928 in deferrals and $14,231,892 in waivers.
Further breakdown shows the following amounts associated with each group:
|7||Passenger Airlines||$13,003,101||in deferrals|
|1||Cargo carrier||$190,896||in deferrals|
|1||Rental Car Company||$6,732,371||in waivers|
In response to the ongoing pandemic, Orlando International Airport has enacted a number of protocols to protect customers and employees. Mr. Brown’s report detailed both continuing and recent efforts to optimize safety, including enhanced cleaning of terminal facilities and high-volume touchpoints; increased signage to encourage social distancing, mask-wearing and personal hygiene; the installation of protective barriers; and the introduction of Personal Protection Equipment vending machines.
Mr. Brown also provided the board with short and long term passenger traffic estimates based on projected flight schedules and load factors. The data indicates that, depending on load factors, MCO could end this fiscal year with a total between 31 and 33 million annual passengers. Monthly passenger totals could continue to decline until the spring of 2021 when they are estimated to begin rebounding. Long term forecasts show it could take until April 2026 to return to pre-COVID levels. He cautioned, however, that air carriers were reducing the number of flights at MCO during August, which likely would result in lower passenger traffic.
CFX Interchange Construction
Updates on two major construction projects that will greatly enhance airport connectivity were also presented to the Board. Laura Kelly, Executive Director of the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX), reviewed the SR 528/SR 436 Interchange Improvement project currently underway. The redesign project will expand and re-configure the interchange to give motorists greater access and ease of travel when driving to and from Orlando International Airport.
Construction began in March and is expected to be completed in late 2022. The $106.5 million project will replace loop ramps with two-lane, directional flyovers, expand SR 528 to six general use lanes and enhance aesthetics for the main entrance/exit to the airport.
Virgin Trains Progress
A simultaneous construction project by Virgin Trains USA is also transforming the airport landscape. Progress on the interstate rail line between MCO and downtown Miami continues on airport property as well as along the SR 528 corridor, where track is being laid and bridges and tunnels are being built. Rail service connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is currently operational and is expected to extend to Orlando in 2022.