Page 9 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- May 2020
P. 9

MAY 2020 UPPER PENINSULA BUSINESS TODAY PAGE 9
 Big Bucks Awarded to Sawyer International Airport
 Sawyer International awarded $18 mil- lion in relief; county board takes other
Sawyer-related action
MARQUETTE — Sawyer International Airport is one of the 90-plus airports in Michigan that will receive funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Econom- ic Security Act.
Michigan airports will receive $256 mil- lion in airport grants through the CARES Act, with Sawyer International Airport being awarded $18 million.
The Federal Aviation Administration funding will support airports experiencing severe economic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will be dis- tributed to airports to prevent, prepare for and respond to impacts from the crisis, a press release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer states.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every business sector — big and small — across Michigan and these grants will pro- vide much-needed resources to help airports across the state weather this public health cri- sis and be prepared when more people resume air travel,” Whitmer said in the release. “I want to thank our congressional leaders for securing this critical funding.”
Chairman of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners Gerald Corkin said during the board’s Tuesday meeting that the grant was positive news amid the crisis.
Airport Manager Duane DuRay echoed that sentiment, saying it was encouraging to see the FAA is supporting airports through- out the country as they navigate these finan- cially challenging times.
“As many of you know, this COVID-19 has literally stopped air service across the country,” DuRay said. “We’ve gone from record-high load factors of 80 to 90 (%) across the country down to the average load factor currently at about 9% across the coun- try.”
He noted that airlines have largely parked the majority of their aircraft, with a handful currently parked on the Sawyer International Airport tarmac.
DuRay is grateful the FAA recognizes the effect the pandemic has had on airports and not just the airlines, he added.
How the “substantial amount” awarded to Sawyer will be spent is yet to be determined, he said.
“We’re looking for a little bit further guid- ance and direction from the FAA and we’ll
hopefully hear within the next couple days,” DuRay said. “We’ll be able to brief the com- missioners on the full package and what we’re going to be able to use and how we’re going to be able to spend it.”
The other Upper Peninsula airports to receive funding included the Delta County Airport in Escanaba, the Houghton County Memorial Airport in Hancock, Ford Airport in Iron Mountain and the Chippewa County International Airport in Sault Ste. Marie. Each airport was awarded $1 million.
Sawyer International was also awarded a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Depart- ment of Agriculture & Rural Development to assist in the funding of its hangar 665 expan- sion project.
Acceptance of the grant was unanimously approved by the board of commissioners dur- ing its most recent meeting.
Hangar 665 serves as the maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for Envoy Air Inc. and American Airlines. The hangar is critical to the growth and expansion of the air- line business at Sawyer International, DuRay said at a previous meeting.
“With the expansion of hangar 665, the apron pavement on the airside of the building will require complete reconstruction,” an air- port memorandum states.
The total project cost is estimated at rough- ly $326,000.
A request for MDARD assistance on the project was placed because no FAA or Michigan Department of Aeronautics funds were available. Because MDARD grants are limited to $100,000, the county doing busi- ness as Sawyer International, will need to fund the remainder of the cost, the memoran- dum states.
Two more of the airport’s tenants request- ed relief in regards to lease payments due to COVID-19.
The board approved to defer half of the April, May and June rent for Upper Peninsula Malt Co. to be repaid during the remainder of the calendar year, as requested by the renter.
A deferment for the full rent amount for April, May and June rent for Boreal Aviation was also approved by the board with the deferred amount to be repaid during the remainder of the calendar year. Capital improvement projects to be completed by Boreal as defined in the fixed base operator agreements with the county were also delayed by the board.
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