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W.Va. airports get grants to cope with COVID-19

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is among the airports in West Virginia that received grants through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation announced.

Grants were announced for 23 airports in the state, about $9 million total, Secretary Elaine L. Chao said. About $10 billion for airports was included in the act.

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” Chao said in a press release.

The funds will help make up for loss of revenue due to COVID-19 to include airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenditures including payroll and utilities and debt payments, the release said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, the Mid-Ohio Regional Airport was set to receive $69,000, but airport manager Glen Kelly said that number may not be accurate. He had no further information at this time.

If the grant is accepted, Kelly said they will likely use the funds for payroll due to the decrease in fuel sales.

“We’ve seen fuel sales drop dramatically. I’m sure it’s because people are self quarantining, not trying to be around other people,” Kelly said.

Corporate traffic has stopped along with more general aviation traffic. Some fuel sales are still coming in, but not much, Kelly said.

General aviation pilots are civilians who have the capability to fly their own planes. With 60 planes stored at the airport, Kelly said the number of general aviation pilots in the area is almost 300.

Those folks aren’t flying as often, which may play into the decrease in fuel sales, he said.

“If it’s a pretty day and you can go out and fly by yourself in your airplane and return to our airport, you’re not really interacting with anybody. For the GA folks, I think it’s perfectly safe to let them fly if they’re healthy,” Kelly said.

The airport is also in the process of securing a payroll protection loan through the Small Business Association. Kelly said he plans to discuss the SBA Loan and the potential federal grant with the airport authority before proceeding.

“I just want to have my eyes wide open and also be able to brief author members before we go down that path,” Kelly said.

Another area airport to receive the grants is the Jackson County airport and they are set to receive $20,000, according to the FAA website.

“Thank you to the dedicated men and women from the FAA’s Office of Airports for creating an entirely new program in record time to assist airport sponsors in desperate need of these funds,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

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