Alaska airports get millions to offset COVID-19 costs

Federal aviation officials have released $124.17 million for Alaska airports to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving it to the Legislature to determine specific use of funding.

Some 58 percent of that lump sum, which comes from the CARES ACT Airport Grant Program will go to state owned airports, including Merle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport in Cordova, with another 42 percent earmarked for non-state-owned airports, according to Meadow Bailey, special assistant to Transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon. The formula for distribution of those fund is calculated by the Federal Aviation Administration based on the percentage of passenger numbers using each airport, Bailey said.

A total of 257 airports across Alaska will receive some funds from the grants.

Those funds will support airport maintenance and operations and replace lost revenue resulting from declined aviation traffic due to the pandemic, McKinnon said.

The funds will also help offset the state’s budget challenges and decreased oil revenue, ensuring that the highest aviation priorities remain funded, he said.