A message from Rick King, MAC Chair

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Chair Rick King


Although travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport during the pandemic continues to be largely limited to those who must fly, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) remains focused on taking care of your award-winning airport.

The MAC board of commissioners continues to hold public meetings of the board and its committees. To ensure we can do so safely we meet via conference calls, which allow members of the public not only to listen in but also to participate by offering public comment. The public meetings ensure we keep the business of operating our seven airports moving forward, including opportunities to address the needs of our stakeholders: airlines, travelers, airport workers, airport neighbors, airport businesses and tenants, and other businesses throughout the region that rely on our airports to move people and goods around the country and beyond.

The MAC’s airport system typically generates about $17 billion a year in economic activity in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. While that amount will be far less this year due to fewer flights, travelers and workers, we need to make sure our airports are well positioned to help fuel the area economy again when the time is right for more people to resume air travel.

Working with Minnesota’s Congressional leaders, we were able to gain support for $50 billion in emergency financial relief for U.S. airlines and $10 billion for the nation’s airports. The latter amount includes $125.2 million for MSP International Airport, $157,000 apiece for Anoka County-Blaine, Flying Cloud and St. Paul Downtown airports, and $69,000 each for Airlake, Crystal and Lake Elmo airports. While certainly helpful, we receive funds only after submitting allowable expenses. We are still evaluating options to determine the best way to use the grants. Those funds, together with significant budget cuts by the MAC, will help sustain our airport system in the near term.

Throughout the pandemic, we have kept in close contact with Gov. Walz and Minnesota lawmakers, who have been keenly interested in how MSP is faring and on the steps we’re taking to ensure the airport is well positioned to succeed in what is likely to be a very changed airline industry when demand begins to recover.

Minnesota’s business community is counting on us to do our best to maintain the significant Delta Air Lines hub at MSP, with as many routes and as much competition as possible. We hear regularly from individual companies, the Minnesota Business Partnership, Greater MSP, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce as well as regional and local chambers. Businesses depend on MSP to connect with employees and customers across the globe and want to make sure the air service they rely on will be there when they need it.

We also hear regularly from people who work at MSP International and from the labor unions that represent them. About 20,000 people typically work at MSP. All are interested in keeping as many people working as possible given the precipitous decline in air travel. I can’t say enough about how grateful we are to those who continue to report to work at MSP, keeping operations running safely, serving travelers and maintaining millions of square feet of airport terminal space and 3,400 acres of pavement, buildings and grass. Hats off not only to the employees but also to union leaders for the support they are providing to their members in these unprecedented times.

No one can say with any certainty when air travel will begin to recover or how long it might take to return to the record travel numbers MSP experienced last year. But I can assure you, the MAC is working closely with the airline and airport community as well as with the Twin Cities community at large to ensure your award-winning airport, as well as our six general aviation airports, emerge in good shape and ready to meet the air transportation needs of the region for many years to come.


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Rick King, Chair
Metropolitan Airports Commission