FAA takes back 80% of CARES Act funding for Merced Regional Airport

Local News

MERCED, California (KSEE) — A north Valley airport isn’t getting as much grant money from the COVID-19 relief package as it thought.

Merced Regional Airport was set to get nearly $17 million from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act. However, according to Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, city leaders learned Tuesday night the airport is now only getting $3.3 million.

Murphy said he isn’t aware why Federal Aviation Administration reduced the funds. But, regardless, he’s happy with any money coming in.

The main thing Merced city leaders wanted to do with the CARES Act funds was to give the airport a much needed facelift other maintenance also was on the agenda. He adds this would be a good way for locals to get some paid work.

“There’s also some matinenance work we’d like to do in our parking lot, security enhancements with respect to CCTV, also some crack and slurry fill projects on our taxiway,” Murphy said.

Even after learning about the 80% reduction, Murphy said some of the work can still be done since Merced Regional Airport is a smaller one.

“We don’t have an extremely large staff at our airport and we don’t have any debt service,” he said. “Because of that, we’re likely able to do capital improvement projects.”

In Fresno, the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport got $12.9 million in grant funding from the CARES Act. Administration there decided to use the dollars to address the shortfall in revenue.

Kevin Meikle, the director of aviation for Fresno, said right now the airport is $6 million short for the current fiscal year.

“For the remaining $6.9 million, we plan on using it for the next fiscal year starting on July 1,” he said. It’ll be used for the same thing, covering all the lost revenue it can.

Right now, the Fresno airport is only seeing 5% of its normal passenger traffic. Meikle, along with other airports, expect to start climbing back in June and getting back to where they were by Fall 2021.

That would be in time for the airport’s new parking garage to be done, which is still set to begin construction this summer with all the jobs attached to it.

“The timing will be just right to accommodate all the travelers we’re sued to seeing,” Meikle said.

17 smaller airports in the Central Valley altogether got $558,000 from the CARES Act. Nationwide, airports got $10 billion in grants.

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