An Alaska Airlines flight departs Paine Field in Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

An Alaska Airlines flight departs Paine Field in Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Snohomish County airports get $5.5 million in federal grants

Paine Field will receive $5.4 million. Arlington’s airport and Harvey Field each are getting $59,000.

EVERETT — Paine Field will receive a $5.4 million federal grant to help the airport recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Arlington Municipal Airport and Harvey Field in Snohomish will also receive $59,000 each.

By comparison, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was awarded $176 million. King County International Airport (Boeing Field) will receive $2.1 million and Bellingham International Airport will get $4.4 million. Spokane International Airport is due $16.8 million.

In all, $8 billion in grants were awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration, benefiting hundreds of U.S. airports, the agency said Tuesday.

Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

Paine Field airport director Arif Ghouse said the airport plans to review the grant guidance provided by the FAA “to identify permitted uses of the funding.”

“We are grateful for the additional grant application opportunity and would like to thank our federal delegation for the support that made it possible,” Ghouse said. “Assuming Paine Field’s grant application is successful, the funding will be put to very good use to support Snohomish County’s largest economic engine.”

What is allowed under this round of funding might differ from what was allowed under previous relief grants, necessitating a review, airport spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.

The Snohomish County-owned airport received a $5.5 million federal improvement grant last fall to replace 20-year-old taxiway “Echo,” which connects the airfield’s main runway to the smaller, parallel general aviation runway. The general aviation community and Aviation Technical Services, which repairs and overhauls commercial airplanes, are the heaviest users of the taxiway.

The bulk of the Airport Rescue Grant funds, $6.5 billion, will benefit the nation’s primary commercial airports, such as Sea-Tac, Paine Field and Spokane, based on the number of annual boardings at each airfield.

In all, 57 airports in Washington received more than $217 million, including smaller airports such as Lopez Island Airport, Anacortes Airport and Skagit Regional Airport, which primarily serve general aviation.

The funds can be used for airport operating expenses, debt service and expenses related to combating the spread of pathogens, such as the coronavirus.

Airports can also use the funds to provide rent relief to in-terminal retail and concession firms. However, it is required that they continue to employ at least 90 percent of their pre-pandemic workers.

“The Airport Rescue Grants keep workers employed and help the aviation sector recover as more Americans get vaccinated and begin traveling again,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These grants are part of the administration’s commitment to build back a better and safer transportation system throughout our country.”

In recent weeks, the aviation industry, particularly in the area of domestic travel, has been on an upswing, in some cases nearing 2019 activity levels. On Sunday, more than 2.1 million passengers passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints across the U.S., compared to 607,540 travelers on the same day last year and 2.7 million in 2019.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

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