Local airport to receive CARES Act funds

Prineville Airport was one of many Oregon aviation facilities to receive financial relief from the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The local airport will receive $30,000 of $140 million pledged to airports throughout the state, it was announced last week. The funding for airports from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows them to cover operating expenses that arise from sharp air travel declines 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 U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) “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.”

“This relief funding is incredibly important to help Oregon’s airports, large and small, deal with the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak,” added U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “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.”

Prineville Airport Manager Kelly Coffelt said that things are going fine at the local facility, although he did acknowledge that business is slow and definitely impacted by the current conditions.

He said that the $30,000 awarded to the local airport provides a way to support general aviation facilities without burdening local cities or counties. The Prineville facility is currently managed by the city of Prineville with help from Crook County.

“Typically, FAA only supports infrastructure projects,” Coffelt said, “but with the new circumstances this opportunity is available to support operations. Funds can be made available through an application process. I plan on applying for the funds as they roll out the process.”

Coffelt said he will put the dollars directly into the airport fund for use on personnel, maintenance, utilities and more.

More support from the federal government is anticipated for the Prineville Airport in the near future. FAA and the CARES act is supporting two capital improvement projects that will be funded in 2020 and constructed in 2021, Coffelt said.

“Typically, FAA only funds 90% of said projects although with the CARES act, FAA will be funding these projects 100%,” he explained. “With total project costs of over $2.5 million and the $30,000 in operational support, the CARES Act will save the airport and state up to $280,000.”