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Hartsfield-Jackson to get $338.5 million in federal stimulus funding

A nearly empty Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday April 9, 2020. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
A nearly empty Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday April 9, 2020. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is set to receive $338.5 million in federal stimulus funding to help replace lost revenue from the sharp decline in travel.

The Atlanta airport is one of thousands across the country that will share $10 billion from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The funding for commercial service airports is based on how many passengers each handles, their debt payments and reserves to pay off debt, while general aviation airports will get funds based on their category in aviation. Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport, is due to get the most of any in the country. Airports must submit grant applications for the funds.

Hartsfield-Jackson issued a statement saying the assistance “will allow ATL to continue to provide safe and secure airport operations, while retaining our employees during this uncertain pandemic.”

The statement said it will work with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to determine how to use the funds.

Across Georgia, a total of $410.8 million in federal aid from the CARES Act is earmarked for 97 airports.

The amounts range from $26.8 million for the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to $1,000 for Jekyll Island’s general aviation airport for private pilots.

Atlanta-area general aviation airports DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and Fulton County’s Charlie Brown Field will get $157,000 each.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the award of the funds Tuesday.

An airport must continue to employ at least 90% of its employees through Dec. 31, 2020, to receive the money. While there are more than 63,000 workers based at Hartsfield-Jackson, the vast majority work for airlines, concessionaires or other contractors, not the airport. Hundreds of workers for airline contractors and concessionaires have already been laid off.

The money can be used for anything airport revenues can be spent on, including airport capital expenditures, operating expenses including payroll and utilities and debt payments.

The Federal Aviation Administration encouraged airports to spend the money to help minimize adverse impact from the coronavirus. The CARES Act will also add an additional $500 million for federal funding of existing airport grant programs.