Aviation trade faces problem that inflow of federal grant cash will not have the ability to clear up, professional says

The grants aim to keep airport workers busy, get construction projects off the ground and help airports recover from a pandemic that is severely dampening air traffic. Airports can also use the money to grant rent relief for retail and concession companies in terminals.

Dan Akins, an aviation economist at consultancy Flightpath Economics, said MSP’s cut in grant money was more or less proportional to its share of air travel. He also said total funding might seem like much right now, but it’s based on March estimates.

“It seems big now because I think back then the light at the end of the tunnel was so small that it was hard to know when this was going to end,” Akins said. “And when it arrives it seems like we need less and less of it, but that is the price of a lengthy process to distribute money to airports and other commercial interests that have suffered during the pandemic.”

But Akins said the aviation industry’s biggest problem right now isn’t money – it is Shortage of staff.

“There aren’t enough people. There aren’t enough planes moving,” Akins said. “Demand has dropped so much that in the past few weeks you’ve seen Delta struggling, Americans struggling, Southwest struggling to keep their schedules because there isn’t enough manpower to provide the talent that they need Things to get an airplane from A to B. “

He said some airlines may have been too aggressive in firing highly specialized personnel like pilots and it will take a long time to regain that talent.

“Maybe they let too many pilots go with early retirement packages, as I think, as is the case with Delta, which seemed in a crisis when all airlines went over the waterfall,” Akins said. “‘Let’s get rid of the most expensive senior pilots and this will save us.” That was real short-term thinking. “

In other cases, Akins said, airlines are pulling managers off their officers and allowing them to get into day-to-day operations.

Right now, as airlines have been caught unprepared for a sudden surge in demand for air travel, air fares are rising, Akins said. And the generous refund policies that some companies put in place during the pandemic could also be dropped.