Stay-at-home orders as well as travel advisories and restrictions in place amid the virus caused passenger travel to decrease by about 50% at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the William P. Hobby Airport in March 2020 as compared to March 2019, HAS Public Information Officer Augusto Bernal said.
IAH saw a decrease of 1.36 million passengers between February and March, from 3.37 million to 2 million, per HAS data. The airport also took nearly a 49.13% decline in March passengers from the same time last year; 3.95 million passengers traveled through the airport in March 2019.
The number of flyers at HOU decreased from 1.03 million to 609,427 between February and March, while the airport's year-over-year data shows 651,470 fewer passengers traveled through HOU in March 2020 versus March 2019—a 51.67% decline.
The financial hit the airports are taking will be mitigated in part by multimillion-dollar grants both airports are set to receive from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law March 27, Community Impact Newspaper reported.
The U.S. Department of Transportation granted $149.19 million to IAH, $50.87 million to HOU and $157,000 to Ellington Airport, which is a noncommercial airport also operated by HAS. The grant funds will be used for general operations and debt service at both IAH and HOU, Bernal said.
While the long-term impact of the virus on the systems is not yet clear, Bernal said the HAS is ready to accommodate the community's travel needs as soon as needed.
"When public health, city, state and federal officials deem it safe, we are prepared to reconnect the people, businesses, cultures and economies of the world to Houston," he said.