FAA says US airports will get USD8 billion in pandemic relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — Airports in the United States (US) will share USD8 billion in federal grants to help them recover from the pandemic, which caused a steep drop in air travel and a loss of revenue that airports expect from airlines and passengers.

Most of the money will go to big airports with commercial airline service. They will share USD6.5 billion based on the number of passenger boardings, plus another USD800 million to offer rent relief to companies that operate concessions such as food and retail outlets
in terminals.

Airports must keep at least 90 per cent of the workers they had before the pandemic to receive one of the grants, which will be handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Congress approved the money as part of a pandemic-relief measure that US President Joe Biden signed in March. The Biden administration said the grants would protect airport jobs and construction projects as travel recovers.

The FAA said several hundred airports will get grant money, including USD175.7 million for Seattle-Tacoma International, USD115 million for Philadelphia International, USD74.3 million for Daniel K Inouye International in Honolulu, USD56.2 million for St Louis Lambert International, and USD50.6 million for Raleigh-Durham International in North Carolina.

There are nearly 500 commercial airports in the US, according to an industry group, Airports Council International-North America, and the group projects that they will lose more than USD40 billion from the pandemic by next March.

A traveller goes through a security check point at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, Washington. PHOTO: AP