Airport eligible for $18 million in federal funding

Airport gets $4.50 per passenger who flies; with fewer people flying it gets less money



Tony Bean, Executive Director for the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, says U.S. airports received $10 billion from the CARES Act.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has seen a significantly lower number of people flying as a result of COVID-19.

Tony Bean, Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport executive director, said the airport is reducing the maintenance operation budget by about 15 percent of what it typically earns. 

The budget for the airport annually this year is over about $900,000 maintenance operation budget of what they run the airport on, he said.

The actual number for the airport maintenance operation budget fiscal year 2020 is around $927,656 which was projected on a significant increase based on landing fees and parking fees that they are not going to see, Bean said. 

Cherri Gentry, Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport administrative assistant, said the airport gets $4.50 of a passenger facility charge (PSC) for each passenger that flies.

The money goes into the care of the runway, runway lights, operation, operating costs and paying the power bill, Gentry said. 

Now, the airport is losing $4.50 for every passenger that is not flying, she said.

Bean said the airport has an offset of which they have submitted a grant application for roughly $6 million to cover four years of operational expenses and match. 

“We are going to come out of this just fine because we do have some additional resources from the federal government,” Bean said. 

Airports received about $10 billion in grant funding from the $2 trillion dollars passed from the CARES act, Bean said.

The airport is eligible for a little over $18 million and the remainder of those funds will go toward paying the partner share of the terminal, he said. 

He said an example is that the airport turns in a receipt for payroll which the FAA will look at the receipt and determine it to be eligible to get a reimbursement.  

This means the airport is withdrawing funds for the shortfall directly from a grant that is from a grant that is funded by the general fund from the federal government and they are only drawing what they are spending, Bean said. 

When airports take federal money there are stipulations that go with those federal funds and the city signs on to grant assurances, he said. 

He said the airport are not going to be pulling from their own municipal partners because they are having their own issues. 

Gentry said the airlines are restricting the number of people that can be on the plane to keep the social distancing rules. 

She said there has been one flight that contains about 20 people or less in a day which typically about 76 passengers can fit in the flights. 

Bean said the middle of March is when the number of people that were flying started to decrease and the number of people flying in April is much lower. 

Gentry said there have not been any layoffs but there have been modified schedules because of reduced hours for TSA which TSA are at the airport for one flight a day. 

The way social distancing is being enforced is that the passengers are not allowed to sit in the aisle seats and are spacing the passengers apart so that they are six feet apart, she said. 

The flight attendants wear protective gear such as masks and gloves, planes are cleaned and the airport is cleaned especially high touch areas such as water fountains and vending machines, Gentry said. 

“We are trying to do our part…keeping everybody safe,” she said.