U.S. airports would receive $10 billion in grants under the stimulus bill that passed unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday night.

Under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act, nearly the entire $10 billion in airport grants would go toward commercial airports. In exchange for the money, airports would be required to retain at least 90% of their workforce through the end of this year. 

General aviation airports are to get at least $100 million under the legislation. 

Most of the commercial airport grants, amounting to $7.4 billion, is to be allocated proportionally based on the number of passengers each airport served last year and a formula that weighs the debt service each airport paid versus each airport’s unrestricted reserves. 

Another pot of $2 billion would be disbursed in more progressive fashion, with small airports getting a proportionately larger share of those funds. 

The Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) trade group projects that the Covid-19 outbreak will cost U.S. airports at least $13.9 billion this year. 

ACI-NA projects that passenger traffic at U.S. airports will drop 37% in 2020 versus 2019. That would drive a drop of approximately $12.3 billion in airport operating revenue. Lost collections of passenger facility charges, which consumers pay when they buy an airline ticket, will amount to $1.6 billion this year, according to the ACI-NA projection.

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