The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has been awarded millions of dollars in grant money that its director says is a significant step toward building a new terminal.

As part of the federal government’s CARES Act funding, the airport will receive a grant worth $18,059,137. The money is part of $10 billion in government funds meant to provide economic relief to U.S. airports in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Port of Whitman Business Air Center in Colfax will receive $20,000.

Tony Bean, executive director of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, said he was unsure of how much funding the airport would receive, but he was not expecting a grant this large.

He said this will help the airport accomplish its goal of funding a new, larger terminal. Bean said the airport is already in the design phase for the terminal and he expects construction to begin in 2021.

“It solves a major problem and it moves us forward,” he said of the grant.

Additionally, Bean said it will take pressure off of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport’s local partners to fund the terminal.

Pullman, Moscow, Washington State University, University of Idaho, Latah and Whitman counties and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories are among the partners that helped fund the airport’s new runway.

These entities likely would have been asked to contribute significant dollars to the new terminal, but Bean said that is no longer necessary thanks to the CARES Act grant. The federal government’s funding ensures the terminal will be paid for with a minimal amount of local funding, he said.

Bean said the terminal site will cost between $30-$50 million. The airport has $21 million in Federal Aviation Administration money to spend in addition to the more than $18 million from the CARES Act grant. He said the airport will only build what it can afford.

The new airport will be larger than the current facility, which Bean said is about a fifth of the size it needs to be.

Bean said some of the CARES Act grant money will also go toward staff payroll and recovering some of the revenue lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of parking revenue. He said the money may also be used toward building a bigger parking lot.

“We’re just extremely appreciative of the funds that we received,” Bean said.

Bean said the airport tries to be as fiscally responsible as possible. He said the operating budget this year is under $1 million.

The airport, deemed an essential service, continues to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the number of passengers has fallen. Bean said there might be 16 passengers on a plane at a time.

The airport this year has started construction of a new taxiway, which is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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