April 14, 2020 In the News

NH airports land $15.2M through CARES Act

New Hampshire Union Leader
By Jonathan Phelps
April 14, 2020

A FedEx plane that landed Sunday at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport with 91,000 pounds of personal protective equipment will help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the airport needs help.

Coming to the aid of airports struggling with declining traffic, federal officials on Tuesday announced New Hampshire facilities will receive $15.2 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Manchester will receive $12,129,630, the most among the 14 airports that will benefit.

Portsmouth International Airport will receive $1,607,474 and Lebanon Municipal Airport $1,060,370.

Airports are needed to ensure essential workers and supplies can reach the state and business and industry travelers can make necessary trips, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement Tuesday.

“These resources will provide urgent relief to help our airports weather this storm so they can continue to operate and provide Granite Staters with transportation options once this pandemic is behind us,” she said.

The CARES Act money is in addition to $1.25 billion the state will receive for COVID-19 emergency response efforts. New Hampshire previously received $4.9 million for COVID-19 preparations from the first coronavirus response bill, according to the statement.

Last month, Shaheen led a bipartisan call urging the Trump Administration to work with Congress to deliver relief to U.S. airports. The announcement Tuesday included Sen. Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who heard about the money during his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, called it “terrific news.”

“There was a lot of airport funding in the original CARES Act, but it was all for big airports,” he said. “It really cut Manchester and other smaller airports out of the mix, so securing that federal money is very, very important, given air travel has drastically been reduced. Therefore the revenue coming into the Manchester airport and other smaller airports — not just here in New Hampshire but across the country — are taking a real hit to be sure.”

Ted Kitchens, director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, previously told the Union Leader that based on forecasts, revenue for the airport is likely to be off “$5 million to $6 million” for the fiscal year ending June 30.

“This is an unprecedented time for the aviation industry. Although aviation has historically been very resilient, the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus has put considerable strain on the entire aviation ecosystem,” Kitchens said in a statement.

The money will be used to keep airports in reliable and safe operation, keep airport workers employed and maintain stable credit ratings.

“We cannot thank enough the hard-working members of New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation for their leadership in getting airports included in the CARES Act,” Kitchens said. “The funds provided under this grant will allow us to continue to provide best-in-class operations as we plan for what could potentially be a long road to recovery.”

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig also thanked the delegation.

”Airports nationwide have seen a significant decline in airport traffic as a result of COVID-19, and this funding will help to ensure Manchester-Boston Regional Airport will be able to offset revenue shortfalls during this crisis,” she said in a statement.

Pappas said airports are a major part of the state’s economy.

“This direct support is crucial to maintain operations and meet unprecedented challenges, and we must seek additional federal resources as our airports recover,” he said. “As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to do all I can to advocate for Manchester, Pease, and other New Hampshire airports while pushing for a larger infrastructure package that will create jobs and invest in our future.”