KENTUCKY — A new round of federal aid is being awarded to Kentucky airports as part of the American Rescue Plan Act’s $8 billion in grants.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky airports to receive millions in American Rescue Plan funding

  • Blue Grass Airport in Lexington will receive $7.7 million will go towards payroll and other expenses

  • Muhammad Ali International Airport to be awarded $36.5 million

  • 51 Kentucky airports to get a combined $89 million in federal funding

Traffic in airports nationwide suffered historic losses during the pandemic.

Amy Caudill, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport said they lost over 90% of their business at the onset of the pandemic.

"We had lost approximately 95% of our business for a couple of months and so that was really difficult when you look back at those months of March and April of 2020," Caudill said.

Caudill said passenger counts have been trending up recently as leisure travel continues to pick up, but with business travel still on hold, pre-pandemic numbers are still not back.

"I think one the challenging things that many people don’t realize is that we don’t expect our passenger count to probably get back to pre-pandemic levels until about two years at least from now," Caudill said.

Fortunately, financial relief is being awarded and is on the way, as the Blue Grass Airport is set to receive its third round of funding as part of a federal COVID relief package.

The will help keep airport workers employed, fund construction projects and help financial recovery from the pandemic.

"It’s so important that we keep employees employed here. We are needlessly to say a service organization. Everyone who comes on a trip and goes through this airport needs assistance," adds Caudill.

Receiving $7.7 million, airport officials said the funding will go toward payroll and other expenses.

"Most of those funds will go directly towards payroll here for the staff at the airport and also for some debt payments that we have. So, it’s really day to day expenses that we have," says Caudill.

On Friday, Congressman John Yarmuth (R-KY) announced Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport will receive $36.5 million from the FAA's Airport Rescue Grants Program that will will go towards operational expenses and installing a state of the art energy efficient mechanical system including an upgraded HVAC. 

The largest amount – just over $42 million in funding – was awarded to the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington (CVG). 51 Kentucky airports in all will receive funds.

“We are pleased that leisure travel volume is returning, but it will be some time before we fully return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers. We are grateful for this $42 million in airport rescue grant funding as it is essential to support CVG operations and our concession partners as we continue to respond and recover from the pandemic,” said Candace McGraw, CEO, CVG Airport.

"For us to have this money is huge because its allowed us to stay afloat until we knew our passengers could return," Caudill said.

Caudill said with travel slowly picking up, this funding will assist the airport in getting back on its feet.

According to Congressman Yarmuth, Kentucky’s airports were awarded more than $89 million in total American Rescue Grants.

Click here for a full list of recipients in Kentucky and nationwide.