A vote on whether to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for hundreds of workers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has been delayed due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates MSP, was widely expected to approve the wage increase in April. The ordinance covering many workers was supposed to be phased in by July 1, 2022.

Now, the MAC said the vote will "occur at a later date." No timeline was specified.

MAC Chair Rick King said in a news release that the airports commission is not abandoning the effort.

"The issue is timing. Right now, airport businesses are struggling due to the rapid decline in air travel demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," King said. "We need to be careful about increasing costs to businesses at a time when revenue throughout the aviation industry are far below what anyone could have forecast and might remain so for some time."

Between March 12 and March 18, the number of passengers screened at MSP security checkpoints declined by nearly 51% compared with the same period last year, the MAC said. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the MAC said passenger numbers were more than 70% below the same dates last year.

Delta Air Lines, the dominant carrier at MSP, has said it will cut flight capacity globally by 70% and ground 600 planes, more than half its fleet, due to a rapid decline in demand because of COVID-19. The nation's airlines have asked Congress for a $50 billion bailout.

On Monday, the MAC approved a measure that could give financial relief to airport shops and restaurants.

Union leaders representing workers at MSP expressed disappointment with the delayed hourly pay raise. Wade Luneburg, political director of the hospitality union, UNITE HERE, said the union is not satisfied but "we understand the gravity of the situation and at this point we must move through this unprecedented time together."

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 @ByJanetMoore