CORONAVIRUS

Eastern Iowa Airport to receive $22.8 million in federal relief

The Eastern Iowa Airport will receive the second-largest amount of CARES Act funding in Iowa. Above, a United Parcel Ser
The Eastern Iowa Airport will receive the second-largest amount of CARES Act funding in Iowa. Above, a United Parcel Service jet is unloaded at the Cedar Rapids airport in this 2019 photo. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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The Eastern Iowa Airport will receive $22.8 million in federal aid, as part of a $70.5 million award for airports statewide under the Federal Aviation Administration.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced the relief grants will be issued to 79 Iowa airports, including municipal and regional hubs.

The Cedar Rapids airport’s award clocks in as the second-largest amount issued statewide, behind only Des Moines International Airport, which will receive $23.1 million.

The federal funds are part of a $10 billion package allotted through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act to more than 3,000 airports across all 50 states, FAA officials said.

The money “will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release Tuesday.

The FAA has encouraged airport sponsors to “spend the grant funds immediately to help minimize any adverse impact from the current public health emergency,” including on airport capital expenditures, operating expenses such as payroll and utilities and debt payments.

The CARES Act also includes funds increasing the federal share to 100 percent for grants awarded under the fiscal 2020 appropriations for Airport Improvement Program and Supplemental Discretionary grants, rather than requiring grant recipients to contribute a local match of project costs.

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The $70.5 million in grants to Iowa airports comes as industry experts estimate a year-over-year decline in airline traffic, up to 95 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airports Council International-North America, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, on March 20 projected U.S. airports will lose at least $13.9 billion in 2020. On April 6 it projected the airports could see a total loss of $23 billion as a result of the global health pandemic.

“America’s airports are grateful for the support from Congress and the administration as they continue to navigate the unprecedented challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic,” Kevin Burke, the group’s president and CEO, said on Tuesday.

“These grants will help airports offset some of the financial damage from the abrupt, unexpected drop in air travel that resulted from necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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