WASHINGTON, D.C. — Airports across southern Oregon will receive an influx of more than $15 million in funding from the CARES Act as relief from the economic hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, members of Oregon's Congressional delegation announced on Tuesday.
The funding for airports from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows them to cover operating expenses that arise from a sharp decline in air travel and other economic losses in the wake of COVID-19.
“The economic impact from this global pandemic has devastated airports in Oregon and nationwide,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “More federal help will be needed to support these key travel connections throughout Oregon, but I am gratified these resources are en route to ensure our state’s airports will continue running in communities that rely on them for travel, the transport of goods and more.”
The lion's share of that funding, nearly $15.1 million, goes to the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport.
“Our aeronautical revenues seemed to have disappeared overnight,” said Jerry Brienza, Airport Director for the Medford airport. “This necessary funding will ensure that the airport remains open, operational, and safe. These funds will also be used to help retain employees and pay airport debt service.”
According to Jackson County, construction was still set to begin on Monday of this week at the airport on a new passenger boarding bridge. That project is planned to go forward in four phases — beginning with the removal and repainting of aircraft pavement markings, followed by the pouring of a new foundation, moving the old loading bridge, and finally the installation of the new bridge.
Though Medford's airport received the majority of funding, a number of small airports across the region will receive some funding as well. Most — including the Ashland, Brookings, Illinois Valley, Chiloquin, Gold Beach, Grants Pass, Lake County, and Christmas Valley airports — will get between $20 and $30 thousand.
The Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport in Klamath Falls will receive a slightly larger sum at $69,000.
“This relief funding is incredibly important to help Oregon’s airports, large and small, deal with the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “These assets are economic hubs for communities across our state, and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to get to the other side of this crisis.”
Throughout the state of Oregon, airports will receive more than $140 million in relief grants. The Portland International Airport accounts for $72.3 million on its own.