ST. GEORGE — As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, commercial and civilian airports across the county will soon receive economic support to stay operational amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
United States Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has announced the award of approximately $10 billion to commercial and general aviation airports across the country, including more than 30 airports in Utah. St. George Regional Airport is on the list and is anticipated to receive approximately $4 million, Airport Manager Richard Stehmeier said.
The money will be used to pay for ongoing operations, including salaries and maintenance.
Currently St. George Regional is still in operation, with four flights landing and departing. Stehmier said although ridership is low, the airport has not laid off any workers.
“Everyone has taken a serious hit,” he said. “Although our expenses have stayed about the same, our income has dropped about 10%, and this money will be a huge help.”
So far, the financial health of the St. George Regional Airport is considered “OK,” all things considered.
“The one thing that we have to look at is that it may be a while before flights and airlines recover from the economic drought we’ve had for the last six weeks,” Stehmier said. “If it takes a while to recover, a couple of years, we will be able to use this grant to meet our needs.”
In less than two weeks since the bill was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration is ready to deliver CARES Act grants to eligible airports throughout the nation.
“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” Chao said in a news release.
The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses — including payroll and utilities — and airport debt payments.
The FAA encourages airport sponsors to spend the grants funds immediately to help minimize any adverse impact from the current public health emergency.
The CARES Act also provides funds to increase the federal share to 100% for grants awarded under the fiscal year 2020 appropriations for Airport Improvement Program and Supplemental Discretionary grants.
Under normal circumstances, Airport Improvement Program grant recipients contribute a matching percentage of the project costs. Providing this additional funding will eliminate the local share and allow safety and capacity projects to continue as planned, regardless of the airport’s financial circumstances.
The FAA will use a streamlined application and grant-agreement process to make this funding immediately available for critical airport needs.
The CARES Act provides new funds distributed by various formulas for all airports that are part of the national airport system. This includes grants for all commercial service airports, “reliever” airports and some public-owned general aviation airports.
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