One of Central Florida’s most prominent voices, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), has been joined by her Democrat colleagues, Rep. Val Demmings (D-FL) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), in unveiling even more government spending, in response to COVID-19.
The three announced today that Florida airports and Florida airport businesses will receive $200 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to compensate for the potential income lost due to the Pandemic.
In particular, the Orlando International Airport, which is in Murphy’s district, will be entitled to $41.5 million, whereas the Orlando Sanford International Airport will be given just over $5.5 million in federal support.
These funds are being allocated from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that was passed late last year and contained nearly $2 billion of funds to be used for economic relief during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Air travel has been one of the most damaged industries within the past year. Passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport has decreased by 57%, which in turn means less economic revenue for airlines.
As for Orlando Sanford International Airport, passenger traffic in 2019 was an all-time high at 3.2 million passengers. This decreased drastically in 2020 to 1.5 million passengers – that’s a 53% decrease in air travel.
Although exuberant government spending is not ideal, it may be necessary as much of Florida’s economic revenue is derived from tourism. Murphy uses these statistics to justify the push for funds as she claims, “air travel has been substantially reduced nationwide, and this has severely impacted our local economy and hurt our local airports and the small businesses that operate within them.”
Demings has responded that the federal relief she is fighting for is, “vital” for restoring the economy of Central Florida.
Another facet of airports being closed that people tend to overlook is the businesses that reside within them, as Murphy mentions. Sotto, one of the pivotal supporters of the funding, has advocated for funding these businesses and hopes that the funds will “ensure that essential services and small businesses within the airport are protected during this devastating time along with workers.”