Fewer travelers than expected are parking at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport this year, leaving a hole in the airport’s budget.
At the mid-point in its fiscal year, DFW’s parking revenues, while up over last year, are $3.9 million less than the airport had projected. As a result, executives told the airport board Thursday, they’re forecasting a $10 million budget shortfall, primarily due to parking.
“Originating customers were below planning and those are the customers who park,” said Sean Donohue, the airport’s chief executive.
Another factor, he said, are more people using services like Uber and Lyft to get to the airport. “That’s clearly had an impact and we made a mistake of having too aggressive of a budget,” he said.
The airport had budgeted to collect $80.7 million in parking revenues for the first six months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. So far, the airport has collected $76.9 million.
To compensate for the lower revenues, Donohue said the airport has deferred some technology projects by six to nine months.
“None of [the deferred projects] impact the customer experience. They don’t impact safety and security,” Donohue said.
The airport is also not filling new positions authorized in the budget and not automatically replacing employees who leave.
Despite missing its budget projections, parking revenues are 5 percent higher than they were in the same period of the previous fiscal year. The airport raised some parking rates in September, increasing terminal parking by $2 to $24 a day. Parking rates in the express and remote lots also increased $1 to $12 and $10 respectively.
“I’d be a lot more worried if we were actually down year-over-year,” Donohue said.
Separately, the airport said it served 5,640,286 passengers in March, an increase of 1 percent. American Airlines, its largest carrier, saw its passenger count increase 2.1 percent during the spring break travel month.
However, international passengers declined 0.2 percent as fewer travelers headed to Mexico than in March 2016. Donohue said the airport is concerned that its largest international market saw a 5 percent decline in March.
“The fact that the peso is down and now it’s more expensive to travel to the U.S. is in play,” Donohue said, although he added that it’s unclear why travel to and from Mexico has been declining since October.