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COVID-relief funding secured for local airports

Funding to it and other local


Last updated 4/30/2020 at 12:36pm

With Montana airports struggling to keep up with costs after the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a standstill, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., announced they successfully secured funds for local airports to cover operational expenses, staffing, and certain development projects during the crisis.

The funding includes $30,000 for the Havre City-County Airport and $20,000 each for the Big Sandy airport, the Liberty County airport in Chester, the Edgar G. Obie Airport in Chinook, and the airport in Harlem.

Tester praised the airport funding.

“Montanans rely on our small community airports to keep our state connected, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down traffic almost entirely,” Tester said. “I’m glad to have helped secure this funding at a critical time — it’ll help the Havre City-County Airport keep up with their day-to-day operations so that when this crisis is over, they can continue serving their community and driving our economy.”

Daines also lauded the funding.

“The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted our Montana airports which are vital to our economy and communities,” he said. ”This funding is critical for Montana airports to help stay afloat and keep workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic.”

  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. In addition, airports are facing new demands on operations, doubt about their ability to retain staff, increased pressure to reduce costs, and uncertainties about their ability to pay down debt obligations or complete projects.

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. Tester secured nearly $74 million in funding for 70 other airports across Montana, which can be used for any purpose that airport revenue may legally be used, including operational expenses and certain development projects. 

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. Recently, Tester called on Senate leadership to broaden the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make sure it covers outdoor industries with seasonal workers, taverns with income from gaming and Tribal businesses. After he called directly on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make sure taverns qualify for all CARES Act relief programs, the SBA expanded eligibility for the PPP to include them.

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.


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