March 12, 2020 / 5:46 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. airports expect to lose at least $3.7 billion as coronavirus cuts air travel

(Adds confirmation, details on losses)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) - Major U.S. airports told the White House on Thursday they were bracing for massive losses because of the falloff in travel demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) said it estimated U.S. commercial airports would lose at least $3.7 billion in calendar year 2020 — a figure that it said “does not include the impact from the recently announced travel restrictions from Europe.”

ACI-NA Chief Executive Kevin Burke, and directors of nine major U.S. airports, met key administration officials at the White House to discuss measures to protect travelers and airport employees from the spread of COVID-19 and the economic impact from the sharp drop in air travel.

The meeting included senior transportation and Federal Aviation Administration officials and included representatives from most of the 11 major U.S. airports where enhanced screening of arrivals from China have taken place.

“This unexpected shortfall will strain airport operating budgets and potentially disrupt the funding of infrastructure projects already underway,” Burke said in a statement.

Officials warn the costs could potentially force airports to halt infrastructure projects and could eventually threaten bond payments. (Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Tom Brown)

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