Marianas airports awarded $5M federal aid

VACCINES: Customs personnel stand by as the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine is unloaded from a United Airlines aircraft at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport in December 2020. The Saipan airport and airports on the islands of Tinian and Rota have been awarded federal financial aid to help them get through the travel downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributed photo

Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan announced Thursday that $5.8 million in funding Congress provided in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 has been awarded to the Commonwealth Ports Authority.

The seven separate grants are directed at the extraordinary costs to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands airports incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to helping CPA meet other financial obligations made difficult by revenue loss as the pandemic has stretched on.

“Because we are unconnected by road or rail to the rest of the world, our airports are especially important to the economy and daily life of the Marianas,” Sablan said in a press release.

“Congress has provided these relief funds to the Commonwealth Ports Authority to deal with the current economic crisis and I look forward to more investments in airports and all our transportation infrastructure as Congress begins work on (President Joe Biden’s) plan to Build Back Better.”

The four grants awarded for costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, debt service payments, and combating the spread of pathogens are:

• $3,663,838 for the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport; 

• $9,000 for the Pagan airstrip; 

•  $1,014,015 for the Tinian Airport; and 

• $1,003,863 for the Benjamin Taisacan Manglona Airport on Rota. 

Three other grants were awarded to provide economic relief from rent and minimum annual guarantees to on-airport car rental, on-airport parking, and in-terminal concessions located at Northern Marianas airports. They are:

• $8,836 for the Tinian Airport; 

• $2,436 for the Benjamin Taisacan Manglona Airport on Rota; and 

• $121,975 for the Saipan airport.