April 21, 2020
Jacksonville, FL-area news station WJXT recently highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (FHB).
Nathan Coyle, the airport’s manager, estimates general aviation traffic is down about 95%, compared to normal level for this time of year. This dramatic downturn in traffic not only affects aviation-related businesses at the airport, but the community and the region as a whole.
“This airport has a $41 million a year economic impact. So not having some of that transient traffic here is certainly going to have an impact on the community,” Coyle told the station.
Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport provides convenient access to Jacksonville, as well as Amelia Island and other popular beach areas. It is home to about 60 based aircraft – mostly single-engine airplanes – and prior to COVID-19, averaged 129 operations per day. Now, Coyle says the airport sees one flight a day, if that.
The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes $10 billion in funding for airports across the U.S. Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport expects to see $30,000 in CARES Act funding. The airport is operated by the city of Fernandina Beach and has been self-sustaining, not receiving any municipal general funds to operate. The CARES Act funds can be spent on operational expenses, including to replace lost revenue.
Throughout Florida, approximately 100 airports will receive portions of $896 million in CARES Act funding, with large commercial airports receiving the lion’s share.