November 24, 2023
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Tri-county airports get federal grants as ridership plummets


Several tri-county airports received federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Airport Grant Program as they faced steep declines in ridership.

Of the three largest airports, San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport received the most —$20 million. Santa Barbara Municipal Airport got $9.6 million, and Santa Maria Public Airport, which lost all air service when Allegiant pulled its three-times weekly flight to and from Las Vegas, received a little more than $1 million.

Camarillo’s airport got $157,00, airports in Oxnard and Paso Robles each got $69,000, and Lompoc’s airport was awarded $30,000.

The grants are part of a $10 billion program to support airports as travel restrictions have crippled their operations. The amount of funding each airport received was based on a formula which used the airport’s 2018 outbound passenger numbers, its debt and its ratio of unrestricted cash reserves in relation to its debt. In total, 188 airports in California are being given a collective $1.1 billion.

The SLO County airport is using its funding to cover revenue lost by the sudden decline in ridership.

“We are tremendously appreciative of the Department of Transportation for helping (us) to continue to serve our community during this pandemic,” said Kevin Bumen, director of the SLO County airport, in a news release. “The airport is an essential service provider and also a major economic engine for the region. This grant funding ensures we’ll be able to operate during the crisis and be there for our passengers when the travel industry recovers.”

• Contact Amber Hair at