County airport receives $20-million federal grant

–The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) has been awarded a $20 million grant as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Airport Grant Program. The CARES Act will provide $10 billion in grants to airports across the country to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus impacts, including support for continuing airport operations.

“We are tremendously appreciative of the Department of Transportation for helping the San Luis Obispo Airport to continue to serve our community during this pandemic,” said Kevin Bumen, A.A.E., C.A.E., Director of Airports. “The airport is an essential service provider and also a major economic engine for the region. This grant funding ensures we’ll be able to operate during the crisis and be there for our passengers when the travel industry recovers.”

The funding was allocated using a formula that considered an airport’s 2018 enplanements (outbound passengers), debt service, and ratio of unrestricted cash reserves in relation to its debt service. Based on this formula, SBP was awarded $20,081,810. Statewide, 188 airports will receive a total of nearly $1.1 billion.

At San Luis Obispo Airport, the funding will be used to cover revenue lost due to the dramatic travel downturn. The airport has seen a more than 90 percent decline in passengers since California’s shelter-at-home orders were placed. As the crisis evolves, the airport will determine which FAA-approved programs the grant money may fund.

“Our airports are economic hubs that employ thousands of Californians. These grants will help them through this difficult time, and I will continue working to find ways for the federal government to help,” shared California Senator Dianne Feinstein in a press release on Wednesday.

According to the Department of Transportation, “This funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.”

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