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story.lead_photo.caption Planes sit idle Tuesday on the grounds of the Jefferson City Memorial Airport. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration plans to give $152,485,486 in airport aid to 75 Missouri airports to help respond to the coronavirus public health emergency. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.
For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

Several area airports will receive financial aid in the form of grant funding from the federal government as part of a $10 billion emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced Tuesday the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration will award a total of $152,485,486 to 75 Missouri airports as part of the nationwide program.

The funding comes from the newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Airport Grant Program. Funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue.

Jefferson City Memorial Airport will receive $69,000 in grant funds.

Britt Smith, operations division director for Jefferson City's Public Works Department, said the grants will help offset operational losses due to the impact of the virus outbreak.

The airport operates on user fees, grants and general revenue, which comes from taxes. One user fee includes the cost of fuel for planes.

"Certainly that's been impacted," Smith said. "There's not nearly as many flights incoming as usual."

Smith said there is a short lag between when the funding is affected, which would be now, and when the actual numbers are known because of accounting and other administrative steps.

"We don't know what the scale of it is, but certainly there's been an impact," Smith said. "The money will definitely help."

Smith said they aren't yet sure what the money can be used for, so exact plans for the funding will come later.

The FAA encourages the airports to spend the grant funds as soon as they can to help minimize any adverse impact from the virus.

State Technical College of Missouri, in Linn, will receive $20,000 for its airport.

State Tech's Board of Regents approved in January a project to repaint the airport's runway, after the Missouri Department of Transportation contacted the college last year and made the request to do so because Runway 9-27 and related taxiway markings had become faded and grown over by mold.

The repainting project was estimated to cost $184,200, though State Tech was responsible for only 10 percent of the cost, or approximately $18,420.

State Tech President Shawn Strong said Tuesday that with the CARES Act funding, the college will be able to reallocate its share of the cost for the re-painting project "to support other areas of the college."

"This funding, along with the $1,364,179 State Tech will receive from the higher education portion of the CARES Act, will be of great assistance as we deal with the changing landscape," Strong said.

Eldon Model Airpark will receive $30,000 through the CARES Act, as will Elton Hensley Memorial Airport in Callaway County.

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