Dayton International Airport could see layoffs as pandemic hinders travel industry

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton’s City Manager said this week that while officials are working to minimize the number of layoffs at the Dayton International Airport, they have “little choice to avoid it altogether,” as the coronavirus pandemic hinders airlines around the country.

City Manager Shelley Dickstein in a letter to City employees stated that the coronavirus pandemic has “significantly accelerated the financial structural imbalance at the Airport.” Airlines have been forced to cut back on service across the country, and as a result, enplanements at Dayton International are down 95 percent.

The drop in passenger traffic has also hurt non-airline revenue streams such as parking, concessions, and rental car sales. Additionally, the airport’s bond rating has been placed in Credit Watch Negative.

Dickstein stated, in part, “If we continue down this path we will burn through our cash reserves in just six months. It is essential that we position the airport for an 18-24 month recovery. With practically no revenues coming in and no opportunity to generate revenues, we must make some difficult decisions regarding our expenditures and reduce Airport personnel.”

21 unfilled positions at the airport have been eliminated.

The City has also implemented a Voluntary Separation Program for airport employees, participation in which will inform the need for further reductions through layoffs. Employees have until the end of April to submit to the Voluntary Separation Program.

We’re told it will be incentive-based and targeted at employees who are close to retirement. The employees who choose the program will receive 25% of their base salary if they make less than $70,000 a year. That percentage will increase by 5% for employees making more than $70,000.

“I recognize that layoffs are never ideal and it is truly heartbreaking to be looking at layoffs amid this crisis. Please know that we are working hard to minimize the number of our members impacted but have little choice to avoid it all together,” Dickstein stated.

She tells 2 NEWS there are currently 122 full time employees at the airport, and the City will have to bring that number down to 86 full time positions. This would be a reduction of 36 workers.

Over the last two years, she says the City has had to use $3.7 million in cash reserves to cover expenses for the airport, and the airport is receiving $14.5 million in federal stimulus money.

That stimulus money will be enough to help lost revenues, but not enough to keep employees on board.

Dickstein said in mid-May the city will be refining plans for further reductions in order to put the airport in a position to recover.

Outside of the airport, the City has issued a freeze on all non-emergency hiring and all departments have been directed to look into what an 18 percent 2020 budget reduction might look like in order to prioritize the rest of the year’s activities.

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