ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the Sunport still seeing fewer travelers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is looking to cut a big break to businesses that rely on people flying into Albuquerque. The mayor’s office wants the city council to sign off on giving rental car companies and a well-known hotel a break on their rent.
“The financial hardships that they’re going through is something we wanted to try to help with,” Nyika Allen, Director of Aviation at the Albuquerque International Sunport, said. “And granted, we certainly can’t help everyone, but the minimum annual guarantee that is usually imposed upon these businesses is something that we have the ability to waive at this time.”
The Sunport is pretty empty these days. At one point during the pandemic, it saw a more than 95% drop in travelers coming through. The drop in travelers is also hurting companies that do business out of the rental car complex on city property and the airport Sheraton.
In a summary of responses, the companies said their business is down 80 to 90%, year-over-year. They also said they’ve had to lay off, furlough, or offer early retirement to more than half of their Albuquerque workforce.
The legislation being submitted would waive the minimum annual/monthly guarantee payment, which Allen said is similar to rent, for the months of July, August, and September. But, companies still have to pay 10% of their monthly gross revenues to the airport.
The Sunport hopes the relief would help keep these businesses around.
“We are concerned for the businesses in our Sunport community. We want to make sure that they are viable businesses coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and that they will still be our partners here and that we’ll be able to serve customers and passengers through the rental car industry and the hotel industry near the airport…making sure that the jobs within our community stay here as well” Allen said.
The suspension in payments would cost the Sunport about $2.5 million in lost revenue, which the airport said it has already budgeted for. It said some funding from the FAA and CARES Act will help it cover the loss.
The payments will resume on October 1, 2020. If rental car reservations don’t increase to at least 75% of 2019 levels, the Sunport could extend the suspension of payments until June 2021.