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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Bloomington Airport To Get $4.6 Million From Coronavirus Rescue Bill

CIRA signage
Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington will receive $4.6 million from the coronavirus rescue package to help recover from the pandemic.

UPDATED 8:15 a.m. | Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington will receive $4.6 million from the coronavirus rescue package to help recover from the pandemic, the FAA announced Tuesday.

The package, known as the CARES Act, included $10 billion for airports that have been hard hit by the coronavirus and related economic slowdown. CIRA, for example, saw a 46% decline in passenger traffic last month compared with March 2019. The first half of March 2020 was fairly strong, while the second half fell rapidly, said CIRA spokesperson Fran Strebing.

The CARES Act passed Congress and was signed by President Donald Trump on March 27. The FAA announced airport-by-airport grant amounts on Tuesday. That money can be used “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

"We are still waiting for guidance from the FAA on how this funding will be programmed and implemented. Once we have more information we will determine the appropriate use for the funds," said Strebing.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the money can be used for "airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments. The grants will support continued operations and offset lost revenue due to decline in passenger ridership and other commercial business due to the coronavirus pandemic."

"Like so many, airports have been hard hit by the slowing of our economy due to coronavirus and this funding will help them get through this difficult time," Davis said in a statement. "It will ensure they can still operate when necessary and continue to pay their employees."

The General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, which had around 267,000 more passengers than CIRA in 2019, will receive $6.1 million.

Meanwhile, struggling U.S. airlines finally have a deal in principle with the Trump administration to get a share of $25 billion in federal coronavirus relief that they were supposed to get last week. American, United, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska and Frontier are among the airlines agreeing to the terms. Negotiations continue with others.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.