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Wyoming Airports Receive Nearly $50M From Federal Government

Cheyenne Regional Airport

Thanks to recent federal legislation, 33 airports in the state will receive aid to support operations.

The CARES Act includes $10 billion for qualified U.S. airports. Wyoming will receive $49.75 million, spread amongst its airports, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have been affected by a lack of travel, with some altering the number of flights coming in or out or pausing operations altogether.

Brian Olsen, aeronautics administrator for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) developed a system to calculate which airports will receive what money.

“It looked at a variety of factors such as the number of enplanements they have at their airports, their debt service levels, as well as their unrestricted cash reserves levels,” he said.

Olsen said much of the airports’ revenue is based on the traffic that comes in and out, and now that people aren’t traveling as much, the pandemic is having a big impact on airports. He said airports can be flexible with how they choose to spend that aid.

“They can use it for a variety of things such as payroll, operating expenses, maintenance expenses. It’s really to help them hang on as we get through this unprecedented time and come out the other side and remain viable and strong,” he said.

Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody will receive the most in the state—around $18 million dollars. The Jackson Hole airport will receive $16 million. Both Cheyenne Regional Airport and Sheridan County Airport will receive around $4 million from the federal government. Casper/Natrona County, Gillette, Riverton and Southwest airports will receive varying amounts near $1 million dollars. The rest of the state’s small airports will receive $20,000 or $30,000 thousand.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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