Airport granted CARES Act funds

Published 3:51 pm Monday, April 20, 2020

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The Chilton County Airport has been granted $30,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration to help respond to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Chilton County was one of 73 airports in Alabama that received aid as part of the newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act.

As part of the program, airports across the nation were allotted $10 billion.

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

An airport’s activity and size, as well as the size of the community surrounding it were some of the factors used to determine how much money was issued.

“It will help support lost revenue and financial operations to make up for the loss of airport traffic,” Chilton County Airport Authority board member Billy Singleton said.

According to Singleton, fuel sales makeup 62% of the airport’s annual operating costs. Those fuel sales have declined drastically with less people traveling during the pandemic.

“Air traffic has been interrupted as much as 90% nationwide,” Singleton said.

The cost of operation for the airport typically increases during the summer months due to additional maintenance requirements, such as grass cutting.

According to an FAA press release, the CARES Act will provide funds to increase the federal share to 100% for grants awarded under the fiscal year 2020 appropriations for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and supplemental discretionary grants.

This means the usual $25,000 local match would not be required to be made in 2020, which Singleton stated would give the Chilton County airport $55,000 in “unanticipated” funds with the CARES grant factored in.

“We have a very good relationship with the FAA, and we want to keep it that way,” Singleton said. “We were really pleased to be included.”