MIAMI – The FAA is stepping in to provide much-needed help to airports after more than a year of travel restriction and subsequent losses in revenue.

The funds, allocated under the provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 signed into law last March by US President Joe Biden, will amount to US$8bn to be distributed to eligible US airports as economic assistance to repair damages caused by the Covid-19 global crisis.

According to an FAA press release, the aviation authority has established the Airport Rescue Grants in favor of all airports, either commercial, secondary, or public-owned general aviation airports.

Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Airport Terminal – Photo : Mateo Skinner/Airways

To categorize the airports the FAA has established a list that defines the basis of grants allocation. These definitions are:

  • Primary commercial service airports, those with more than 10,000 annual passenger boardings, will share nearly $6.5 billion based on the number of annual boardings, in a similar way to how they currently receive Airport Improvement Program (AIP) entitlement funds.
  • Primary commercial service airports will share an additional $800 million based on the number of annual boardings, and these funds will then be available for these airports to provide relief from rent and minimum annual guarantees to eligible in-terminal airport concessions. Airports will provide this relief to each airport concession based on its proportional share of the total annual rent and minimum annual guarantees for the airport.
  • Non-primary commercial service and general aviation airports will share $100 million based on their airport categories, such as National, Regional, Local, and Basic.
  • Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants awarded this year will be awarded at a 100-percent Federal share.
Video : US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration via Youtube

Purpose of the Aid

The aim of the economic aid is to avoid loss of jobs while keeping alive ongoing construction projects and reimbursement of operational expenses, debt service charges and costs sustained to ensure health protection at airports. The money will also be available to help airport retailers and concessions.

The conditions for the fund allocations include that at least 90% of the pre-pandemic workforce must be maintained at airports that cater to the majority of passengers.

Chicago-O’Hare Airport (ORD) Arrival Hall – Photo : Andrew Henderson/Airways

Comments from Officials

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commented on the aid by saying, “The Airport Rescue Grants keep workers employed and help the aviation sector recover as more Americans get vaccinated and begin traveling again. These grants are part of the Administration’s commitment to building back a better and safer transportation system throughout our country.”

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

Featured image: Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Terminals.Photo: Luca Flores/Airways