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FAA awards $8 billion in grants to help US airports recover from COVID


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that it is to award $8 billion in grants to “keep US airport workers employed, construction projects going and help US airports recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The funding for the grants comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021.

“The Airport Rescue Grants keep workers employed and help the aviation sector recover as more Americans get vaccinated and begin traveling again,” said US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg.

“These grants are part of the Administration’s commitment to build back a better and safer transportation system throughout our country.”

The funding provides economic relief to eligible commercial service, reliever, and general aviation airports. The money will help keep people safe and employed by reimbursing operational expenses, debt service payments, and costs related to combating the spread of pathogens at the airport.

Airports can also use the money to provide rent relief to in-terminal retail and concession companies.

The funding, says the FAA, requires that airports continue to employ at least 90% of their pre-pandemic employees for those airports that cover a majority of the traveling public.

“The FAA is committed to working with the aviation industry as it recovers from the impacts of the pandemic,” said FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson. “These airport rescue grants provide needed support to our nation’s airports as we recover from the pandemic’s impacts.”

Under the Airport Rescue Grants programme:

  • Primary commercial service airports will share approximately $6.5 billion based on the number of annual boardings.
  • An additional $800 million will be available to primary commercial service airports for providing relief to in-terminal airport concessions from rent and minimum annual guarantees including $640 million for relief to small concessions and $160 million for relief to large airport concessions.
  • Non-primary commercial service and general aviation airports will share $100 million based on their airport categories, such as national, regional, local, and basic.
  • The remaining funds of the $8 billion will be used to cover an airport’s cost-share portion on grants through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program as well as the supplemental discretionary grants. This means airports will likely not have to pay their portion of a given project.

Among the hundreds of airports receiving funding today include: Philadelphia (PHL) – $115 million; Anchorage (ANC) – $44.4 million; St Louis Lambert (STL) – $56.2 million; Honolulu (HNL) – $74.3 million; Raleigh-Durham (RDU) – $50.6 million; Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) – $175.7 million; and Portland (PDX) – $72 million.

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