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(BPRW) Airport Restaurateurs, Retailers and Small/Minority Businesses Urge Airports and Congress to Provide Financial Relief

MBE Magazine Staff
AMAC Logo

Industry is experiencing unprecedented business impact.

WASHINGTON, DC  – The Airport Restaurant & Retail Association (ARRA) and Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) urged airports and Congress to quickly pass financial relief for airport restaurateurs and retailers given the unprecedented business impact caused by the spread of the Coronavirus and resultant COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of both organizations, which include restaurants, gift shops and retail stores, have been seriously impacted given the rapid decline in airline bookings and passenger counts which are falling at unprecedented rates. Further, several state and municipalities are closing restaurants, including at airports, to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All stakeholders in the industry—airlines, airports, airport retailers and restaurateurs, and other related companies—are financially suffering.

The associations represent a $10 billion industry made up of firms of varying sizes, including many small and local businesses which contribute $2.5 billion to airport revenue streams. Together these businesses employ more than 125,000 workers in U.S. airports. The restaurants and retail shops are a vital part of the airline passenger’s travel experience, and a major revenue source on which airports depend for their operations, development and bond financing. 

John Clark, Chair of AMAC commented, “Our members are suffering tremendous sales losses exceeding 50% and in some cases as high as 90%. The industry is facing a major financial crisis. Many businesses, including those classified as small and/or disadvantaged, may not be able to continue operations.”

Restaurateurs and retailers in the aviation sector are contracted by airports, airlines and third-party developers to provide passengers a full range of food, beverage and retail services. Pat Murray, Chair of the ARRA explained, “our members’ ability to retain and pay employees, as well as pay rents to airports, has been seriously jeopardized. Some of our members will likely be unable to meet our debt obligations and will be forced out of business if quick action is not taken to provide relief.”

The two associations urged airports to engage with their members quickly and adopt mitigating actions to save the businesses:

  • Waive rent, other fees and the imposition of penalties for at least six (6) months with the opportunity to extend depending on the extent and impact of the crisis. 
  • Suspend and defer concessionaires’ capital investment requirements.
  • Provide operational flexibility including, but not limited to adjustments to operating hours, locations and menus/product selections as well as selective temporary closing of stores and restaurants in order to better align with passenger volumes and flows and reduce the impact on employees.

ARRA and AMAC strongly support the airports’ request for emergency financial assistance and flexibility to help sustain operations, preserve jobs and bonds, including assistance and flexibility for concessionaires during this critical time. ARRA and AMAC urged Congress and the Administration to also provide financial relief and assistance to airport concessionaires to ensure business continuity, secure loans and make debt service payments. Specific measures ARRA and AMAC urge Congress and the Administration to act upon are:

  • Provide grants and low-interest or interest-free loans to concessionaires to allow concessionaires to cover operating expenses.
  • Provide loan guarantees to concessionaires to assure their ability to continue making debt service payments and secure loans for their ongoing capital investment requirements.

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