Port Authority’s $1.2B year-to-date revenue loss is worst in agency’s history

By Samantha Maldonado
10/29/2020 04:11 PM EDT Updated: 10/29/2020 04:27 PM EDT

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s year-to-date financial losses are the worst the agency has seen, reflecting a $1.2 billion drop in revenue during the first nine months of the year.

“This revenue loss, representing one of the worst financial downturns in the Port Authority’s recent history, is completely driven by the adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our facility activity volumes,” Executive Director Rick Cotton said at the authority’s board meeting Thursday, calling again for federal relief funds.

The financial results, along with projections for the future, contribute to the predicted $3 billion in lost revenue the agency will suffer for the two-year period ending in March 2022.

Details: The Port Authority’s loss in revenue stems from a $1 billion decrease in gross operating revenue and a loss of $162 million in aviation-related passenger facility charges stemming from a drop in airport activity during the pandemic, Chief Financial Officer Libby McCarthy said.

Airports account for about half of the authority’s gross operating revenues, and airport passenger volume was down about 77 percent compared to last year, based on the penultimate week in October.

Ridership on PATH is down 78 percent and vehicle traffic on bridges and tunnels is down almost 11 percent compared to last year, with truck traffic close to and at times exceeding levels from last year.

The Port Authority’s net operating income, which totaled $997 million for the year so far, is 51 percent lower than in 2019 and 56 percent below 2020 budgeted amounts, McCarthy said.

The agency averaged a $240 million monthly loss in revenue in the second quarter of the year, from April to June. The third quarter’s monthly loss comes in at an average of $150 million.

The slight improvement quarter-to-quarter is due in part to a strong recovery of tolls and fares, which make up about a third of the authority’s revenue.

Impact: Cotton previously warned that without a $3 billion influx of federal cash, the Port Authority would have to make cuts to planned capital projects, which include a Newark AirTrain, bus terminal upgrades and redevelopments of John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.

He again underscored the point on Thursday, saying the agency would not be making final decisions on its capital plan until “we get additional clarity on what D.C. will do in terms of further stimulus funding.”

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