Walla Walla Wallops Pasco in Airport Funding $18.5-$5.9 Million
The Port of Pasco has some questions.
While not looking the proverbial gift-horse-in-the-mouth, officials are wondering how the PSC received $5.9 million of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act for support during the coronavirus pandemic, yet airports in Walla Walla and Pendleton, Oregon received $18 million and $17 million respectively?
Wenatchee and Pullman airports? $18 million each. I get SeaTac snagging $192 million, but Boeing Field gets $18 million, too? Maybe the most egregious of all, Marion Sweet Field in Eugene, Oregon: $22 million. Again, Pasco is under $6 million.
I'm not the only one who doesn't get it. The discrepancies are so bad all across the country, a Congressman has actually called for the FAA to halt the payouts until a more "equitable" distribution model is developed.
According to the Tri-Cities airport manager it seems the payments were based on the debt and budget reserves of individual airports. The healthier the facility, the less money it received.
Passenger fees normally cover the Pasco airport's $2.1 million debt payment but with airport traffic down more than 95 percent last month, the money is critical to pay the bills. Operating expenses, running just over a half-a-million dollars a month on average, will also be covered by the grant for the next seven months.
Airlines are now canceling flights at random, as juggling the schedule to meet the criteria set if they took government money is commonplace, and changing things, pardon the pun, on the fly, can be the new normal many times in a single day.
Airlines had to keep a "semi-regular" flight schedule if they, and the airport they were flying into, accepted CARES Act money. All four TC carriers took the funding compelling them to at least bare bones service.
Flights taking off with four people from the PSC is the new normal. Fifteen? You're rocking a full load. Alaska, Delta and United Airlines must schedule five flights a week, Allegiant Air must book three.
Oh, and so much for repaving the PSC parking lot when this is the perfect opportunity because of the down time and there are almost no cars on the lot. Can't risk spending the cash right now.
The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business is the source of this piece and their article also breaks down what other airports in the state received, including the Richland and Prosser airports, both run by the Port of Benton, receiving $69,000 and $30,000, respectively.