Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport will again receive $1 million from the Federal Aviation Administration this year for capital projects.

It marks the 12th consecutive year the airport has received the funds, which go to airports with more than 10,000 passenger boardings.

Bob Whitmer, the airport’s interim director, said he hasn’t received the final number of enplanements at the airport last year.

But, he said, “The FAA has declared a waiver for the required 10,000 enplanements for 2020 because of the COVID effect on travel for 2020.”

Whitmer said, “Obviously, all airlines and airports have had significantly less passenger counts. Owensboro will receive the $1 million Airport Improvement Plan funding for 2021.”

In 2009, the airport qualified for $1 million for capital projects for the first time in a decade because it boarded 10,700 passengers — mostly on Allegiant flights.

Allegiant had begun flights from the Owensboro airport to Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 19 that year.

Last month, that airline reported that the number of passengers it hauled in 2020 dropped by 48.6% — from 1.3 million to 673,041.

Cape Air, which carries passengers between Owensboro, Nashville and St. Louis, hasn’t published its 2020 numbers yet.

It gets a federal subsidy to serve Owensboro through the Essential Air Service program.

In 2010, the airport saw slightly more than 16,000 passengers.

That was the most passengers the airport had seen in a single year since commercial service began here in 1951 with Eastern Airlines.

The previous peak year locally for passenger service had been 1993, when 15,828 people boarded flights on Northwest and American Eagle airlines.

Even back in 1958, when two major airlines — Ozark and Eastern — served the city, the airport handled only 13,000 passengers.

The FAA says that under its new Airport Coronavirus Response Grant Program, “primary commercial service airports, those with more than 10,000 annual passenger boardings, will share $1.75 billion based on the number of annual boardings, in a similar way to how they currently receive Airport Improvement Program entitlement funds.”

Those airports “will share an additional $200 million based on the number of annual boardings, and these funds will then be available for these airports to provide relief from rent and minimum annual guarantees to on-airport car rental, on-airport parking, and in-terminal airport concessions,” the FAA said.

Airports will in turn provide relief to “each airport concession based on its proportional share of the total annual rent and minimum annual guarantees for the airport.”

270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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