Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport will receive $25.8 million in federal grants thanks to the coronavirus relief bill.
The bill is sending $10 billion in federal aid to airports across the country to help with continued operations and to offset job losses during the public health crisis, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Airports in South Carolina received more than $97 million in aid, the bulk of which will go to the state’s busiest terminals: Greenville-Spartanburg, Charleston International, Columbia Metropolitan and Myrtle Beach International. The four airports combined will share about $76.3 million.
The funds can be used on capital expenditures as well as operating expenses, including payroll and utilities, according to the FAA.
“GSP has been awarded a share of these funds, which will be used to reduce the large financial impact of the downturn in passenger activity,” Tom Tyra, GSP Airport’s communications director, said in an email.
Specifically, the grant will be used to cover payroll for airport district staff and routine expenses related to keeping the airport fully operational until people are able to travel again, Tyra said.
According to Tyra, passenger levels at the airport have declined by more than 95% during the pandemic.
“We have also seen dramatic declines in airport parking, rental cars, gift shops, restaurants, lounges, taxicabs, Uber/Lyft and more,” he said. “Virtually every aspect of the operation at GSP is tied into the number of flights and customers using our facilities.”
In response to the outbreak, airlines have reduced their flight schedules by 85% to 90% for the months of April and May while some airlines, such as Frontier, have decided to stop operating altogether until demand returns, according to Tyra.
The ultra low-cost carrier suspended service to GSP Airport on April 19 in response to the dramatic drop in passenger demand.
“June schedules have not been published yet, but we expect flight volume and passenger demand to continue to be very low through the rest of 2020,” Tyra said.