COVID-19 Relief Program Gives VIPA $3.8M for Airports

VIPA Director Carlton Dowe in 2016 file photo)
VI Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe (2016 Source file photo)

Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) Executive Director Carlton Dowe has announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $3,826,687 in federal grants to the VIPA via the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The Port Authority received a $3,699,990 reimbursement grant for costs related to sanitizing the Cyril E. King Airport and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport terminals to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The funds can be used to pay for operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services and any debt service payments.

The Authority also received $126,697 to provide relief from rent and minimum annual guarantees to on-airport car rental, on-airport parking and in-terminal concessions.  Rental car and airport concession sales dropped drastically at both airports at the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020 when travel slowed down due to Stay-at-Home orders issued around the world.

Dowe said that VIPA is grateful for the relief funding for unforeseen expenses and revenue shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  “We are especially grateful that our federal partners have granted these funds to assist us with keeping our facilities safe.  Keeping our employees, tenants and travelers healthy is of paramount importance,” he said.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law by the president on Dec. 27, 2020 and includes nearly $2 billion in funds to be awarded as economic relief to eligible U.S. airports and eligible concessions at those airports to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

To distribute these funds, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established the Airport Coronavirus Response Grant Program. The FAA will make grants available to all airports that are part of the national airport system, including all commercial service airports, all reliever airports, and some public-owned general aviation airports.