PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Airports across Pennsylvania and New Jersey have taken a huge hit during the coronavirus pandemic, some with record lows of passengers. Federal relief in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars is on its way.
Back in 2019, the Philadelphia International Airport saw a record number of passengers and projected 2020 to be even greater.
But since the pandemic, the number of people flying has been dismal and so have the fees collected by the airport built into travelers’ tickets.
“It’s like we fell off a cliff. Things, in terms of operations and passengers, kept going down and down and down,” Philadelphia International Airport CEO Chellie Cameron said.
The federal government is now stepping in and sending airports across Pennsylvania and New Jersey money to help keep the doors open.
The Lehigh Valley International Airport is expected to get $6 million; the Trenton-Mercer Airport will see $4.5 million; Atlantic City International is expected to get $8 million; Philadelphia International Airport is expected to get $116 million.
“We’re Americans, we can get through this together and come safely out the other side,” said Kirk Shaffer, with the Federal Aviation Administration.
At PHL, that money will go towards roughly 1,000 jobs like administrative staff, maintenance, fire and police coverage. The money could come in as soon as next week.
“I gotta tell you, I couldn’t be more grateful. We talked to a lot of our federally elected officials throughout this process and they’ve been so helpful. You don’t know what it means to keep our doors open. There’s been a lot of medical people flying through the air,” Cameron said.
Smaller airports across the commonwealth are also receiving federal money to keep them open.