AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport has received federal grants in the form of relief funds totaling just over $2.8 million.
The funds come after what U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the economic distress caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Funding was appropriated by Congress in December 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplementary Appropriations Act (CRRSA).
“As we seek to turn the corner from this deadly pandemic, it’s critical that Texas airports receive all the resources they need to handle the coming increase in travel,” said Senator Cornyn. “I applaud this announcement which will benefit the health and well-being of travelers to Amarillo.”
$2,736,206 of this grant will be used to provide economic relief for costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitation, janitorial services, debt service payment and the fight against the spread pathogens at the airport.
A grant of $75,630 will go towards economic rent relief and minimum annual guarantees for airport car rentals, airport parking and terminal concessions at major airports.
“In March 2020, we went from an average of about 1,000 people per day passing through this airport to 5% of that number,” said Michael Conner, director of aviation at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. . “So we lost a good chunk of that activity, about 95% of that activity, for most of March 2020 and April 2020.”
Conner said the airport saw a gradual increase from that point.
“Last week we had really good numbers, we were at almost 1,000 a day for a few days this weekend. We don’t expect it to last,” Conner said.
Conner said that given they were at around 5% of normal activity, the grants are really helping the airport recover from lost revenue.
“Our revenue, I mean, just dropped, so it was very difficult to stay afloat and not lay people off. Conner said the layoffs weren’t feasible because they “still have to maintain the airfield and terminals in order to maintain activity for passengers”.
Conner said they’ve had a gradual increase for just under a year. He said they were in a range of about 50-60% of their normal activity.
“We expect it to come down a bit through April and May,” Conner said. “Then we expect a gradual increase until around September.