Bert Mooney Airport receives $1 million federal grant

Bert Mooney Airport received a much-needed lift on Wednesday.

A grant of over $1 million from the CARES Act and Airport Improvement Program was earmarked for the Butte airport, one of five Montana airports cleared to receive a total of over $5.5 million in federal funding as COVID-19 continues to hamper the airline industry.

Jim Kambich, Bert Mooney’s assistant manager, said that the airport has seen a precipitous drop in revenue since the coronavirus outbreak, with April being particularly damaging with a 90% decline.

Things have slowly picked up, Kambich said, with Skywest reviving its second daily flight to Salt Lake City on Wednesday after putting it on hold in early May.

Still, the grant money will serve as a life preserver as Bert Mooney, along with airports across the country, continues to recover financially. Kambich said the primary goal will be keeping their workers employed and maintaining its two flights a day.

“We’re going to utilize this money wisely,” Kambich said, “Keep our employee levels where they are and continue to move forward prudently. We want to keep the airport operational and just make sure we’re doing everything that we’re expected to do and use our time wisely.”

Both of Montana’s U.S. senators praised the securing of the funds, with Bert Mooney set to obtain $1,005,483 that will be used to offset the financial losses dealt by the coronavirus as well as help reimburse the airport for its new $10.5 million airport terminal that was opened in February 2018.

“During this uncertain time, we need to be investing in our transportation infrastructure so we’re prepared for the other end of this crisis,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said in a press release. “This grant will help Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport ensure it’s able to continue serving its community for years to come.”

Republican Sen. Steve Daines also stressed the importance of the importance of the funding toward keeping Montana’s airline industry afloat.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Montana’s travel industry and Montana airports which are vital to local jobs,” Daines said in a press release. “This funding will support our airports with the funding they need and provide the resources to update critical infrastructure projects.”

The other four Montana airports set to receive grant money are Helena ($3,855,808), Sidney-Richland ($200,000), Ekalaka ($369,210) and Great Falls ($210,493).

The funding was part of an $800 million package announced by the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday with grants being allocated to 347 airports in 46 states.