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Tucson International to get $22M for COVID recovery

Mainly to avoid employee layoffs
Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 21:27:47-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - While we wait for Federal stimulus checks, Tucson International Airport is getting word it will get help too----more than 22 Million dollars worth.

Airport revenue depends on air traffic and that has really slowed down. Now the Federal government is ready to deliver some coronavirus relief to TIA.

The busy bustle of TIA is gone. It’s a ghost town since the shutdown.

Planes are still flying but TIA figures that compare March of this year to March 2019 say departing passengers were down more than 47 percent, and arriving passengers dropped more than 51 percent.

But Dick Gruentzel, TIA’s Vice President for administration says good weeks at the start of the month bring up the average. He says the numbers now are much worse.

“We're seeing these in a neighborhood of 95 to 96 percent reduction in our passenger levels compared to a year ago.”

Now the US Department of Transportation is offering TIA more than 22 million dollars in grants for coronavirus recovery.

Gruentzel says the airport authority has avoided employee layoffs or furloughs and most of that Federal grant money will be to keep airport workers on the job.

He says, “One of the requirements that we actually have in accepting the grant money is that, through the end of the calendar year 2020 that we maintain a minimum of 90 percent of the employees that we had, you know, when the whole COVID-19 situation began.”

And he says the Federal Aviation Administration has streamlined the process to help airports get the grants quickly, to hold them over until travel can bounce back again.