Taking to the skies: Local airports to receive COVID-19 relief funds from FAA

Drew Butler

The U.S. Transportation Secretary announced Tuesday that the FAA will be awarding over $42 million in airport aid to 100 airports in Oklahoma to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Airport Grant Program. In Southern Oklahoma, the Ardmore Municipal Airport will receive $69,000 and the Ardmore Executive Downtown Airport will receive $30,000.

Ardmore Development Authority CEO Mita Bates explained the situation.

“As part of the CARES Act, general aviation airports were allocated some funding in order to assist in replacing some of the monies that were perhaps lost through reduced activity through some of those airports,” Bates said. “We had a conference call with the Southwest region (FAA) office on Wednesday and reviewed what items are covered.”

Airport Operations Manager Chase Tindle confirmed a large drop in traffic going through both of the airports.

“We haven’t had nearly the amount of air traffic because a lot of corporate operators and charter operators have shut down or suspended their services,” Tindle said. “There’s also not a lot of flight training or anything like that going on. So there’s been quite a big dip in our operations out here.”

Bates provided a few examples of how the Ardmore Municipal Airport could possibly spend their funds.

“We’re a contract tower and we pay a portion of that tower support, so we can use those monies for that,” Bates said. “We also provide crash, fire and rescue protection, and that’s a requirement of the airpark, so we can use it for that. We also have personnel out there and have three people who are employed to maintain and oversee the aviation aspects, oversee the grounds and things like that, so we can use those monies for their salaries.”

The money can be used to cover any expenses incurred after February 15 that were impacted by the pandemic and Tindle said there is no specific time requirement on when the money has to be spent. Bates said that the FAA will require proof of the expenses, and the ADA will be required to submit evidence of the expenses to the city who will then upload the expenses to the FAA. Upon receipt of the evidence, the FAA will release those funds to the airport.

“We feel very fortunate to be receiving this money,” Bates said. “We plan to be very good stewards of that money and use it where it was intended to be used.”