With Montana airports struggling to keep up with costs after the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a standstill, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today successfully secured nearly $74 million to help 71 airports across the Treasure State cover operational expenses, staffing, and certain development projects during the crisis.
“Montanans rely on our small regional airports to connect our state to the rest of the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shut them down almost entirely,” Tester said. “I’m glad to have helped secure this funding at a critical time—it’ll help local airports across the Treasure State keep up with their day-to-day operations so that when this crisis is over, they can continue serving their communities and driving our economy.”
Montana airports have seen an 80 percent drop in passengers since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the vast majority of Americans to shelter-in-place. On top of this, airports are facing new demands on operations, uncertainties about their ability to pay down debt obligations or complete projects, doubt about their ability to retain staff, and increased pressure to reduce costs.
Tester successfully got this funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act after he pressured the Trump Administration to ensure rural airports did not get left behind in any COVID-19 relief packages. Airports will be able to use this funding for any purpose that airport revenue may legally be used, including operational expenses and certain development projects. This funding will also require small hub airports receiving funding to retain 90 percent of employees through the end of the year.
Nine Montana airports will receive more than $1 million in grant funding:
Billings Logan International Airport – $12,721,011
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport – $15,446,029
Bert Mooney Airport in Butte – $1,143,102
Great Falls International Airport – $3,960,216
Helena Regional Airport – $2,999,713
Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell – $11,572,182
Missoula International Airport – $5,616,102
Sidney-Richland Regional Airport – $1,041,372
Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone – $17,889,095
Funding for the remaining 62 airports can be found HERE.
Tester has led the charge on pushing to make sure small businesses are the focus of efforts to shore up the economy, and that Montana businesses that are currently excluded from relief programs get the support they need to keep the lights on. Last week, Tester called on Senate leadership to provide more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and to expand the program to make sure it covers outdoor industries with seasonal workers, taverns with income from gaming, and Tribal businesses. He also recently called directly on the SBA to make sure taverns qualify for all CARES Act relief programs.
Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding includes $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.