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COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes $10 Billion for US Airports

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act agreed upon by U.S. Congress and the Trump administration this week would provide $10 billion in direct assistance to airports across the country.

However, Travel Weekly reports that the billions in grants could come with a catch as airports would be required to retain at least 90 percent of their workforce through the end of 2020 in exchange for the funds.

A majority of the grants for commercial airports, about $7.4 billion would be distributed proportionally based on the number of passengers each served in 2019 in addition to a formula that weighs each airport’s debt service paid against its unrestricted reserves.

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) applauded the Senate’s passage of the CARES Act on Wednesday, adding that the nation’s airports are facing billions of dollars in losses due to slumping demand and travel restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The entire airport industry is extremely grateful Congress and the Trump administration have stepped up to help offset a portion of the $14 billion and counting that airports will lose this year as a result of the steep, unexpected drop in travel brought about by the coronavirus health pandemic,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke in a statement.

The latest checkpoint data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals a startling decline in air travel since the beginning of March. What’s more, ACI-NA projects passenger traffic at U.S. commercial airports to fall by 73 percent during the period of March to June. Such a dropoff would represent a 53 percent decrease in the first half of 2020 and a 37 percent dip for the full year compared to forecasted 2020 levels.

“Total airport operating revenue is expected to decrease by roughly $12.3 billion for the calendar year,” the group added.

If passed by the House and ultimately signed into law by Trump as expected, the CARES Act would also bail out U.S. airlines with at least $58 billion split between loans and payroll grants.

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