GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Millions of dollars in federal aid will go to airports sitting nearly empty as people avoid flying and cargo is limited due to the coronavirus.
The announcement came Tuesday that nearly $257 million from the CARES Act will be split among Michigan airports. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in metro Grand Rapids will get $16.2 million.
“Overall, we are satisfied with the amount,” Ford Airport CEO Tory Richardson told News 8 Tuesday. “It’s going to help us pay for additional expenses that we’ve incurred for dealing with the COVID-19. Some of those expenses might include the additional cleaning, paying for additional supplies for cleaning, signage and things like that. Every bit’s going to help and we certainly appreciate the assistance that’s coming our way.”
Richardson said 95% of the passenger traffic the airport would normally be seeing right now has evaporated. Ford Airport is only seeing 200 or 300 passengers per day.
“We’ve gone from record highs to records lows, literally,” Richardson said. “There’s literally empty parking lots, a lot of rental cars because they’re not being used and just a lack of the hustle and bustle that you would normally see in our airport terminal today is just not here right now.”
Still, Richardson said he’s optimistic the days of record-breaking passengers will return.
“We work with the airlines that have the best look at the future for us in terms of passenger demand,” he said, “and they’re telling us right now that’s probably 18 to 24 months before we can see some sort of recovery back to levels that might be close to what we were seeing before all of this.”
The Kalamazoo-Battle Creek Airport is getting the most CARES Act cash in West Michigan at over $19 million. Muskegon County Airport will get just over $1 million and the West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland will get about $150,000.