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CARES Act Funding Offers Boost to Tulsa International, American Airlines

Tulsa International Airport

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded more than $15.5 million from Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding to Tulsa International Airport.

“Our parking revenue is down 96%. Our restaurant sales are down 98%. Our passengers just last week were down 96%. So, essentially, we have no revenue coming in, but we still have all the operating costs to operate the airport as well as our debt service payments,” said Tulsa International Airport Director of Air Service and Marketing Andrew Pierini.

Unlike other CARES Act funds that must go toward COVID-19 response measures, $10 billion in airport grants can be used to pay for operational costs from utilities to employee wages, as well as debt service payments.

Pierini said the funding will help Tulsa International get by for about four months.

Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport received $157,000 from the grant program.

American Airlines is also getting assistance through the CARES Act. The company has secured a $4.1 billion dollar grant and $1.7 billion dollar low-interest loan for payroll support, and they plan to apply for a separate loan of $4.75 billion.

“With this level of assistance, we now believe we have the financial resources necessary to help us withstand this crisis and be in position to serve the traveling public when they are ready to start flying again,” read a letter to employees from American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom.

In a statement, the company said $5.8 billion will keep workers on the payroll through September.

The airline is also going ahead with $550 million in upgrades at its Tulsa maintenance base.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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