Although the Commonwealth Ports Authority received $22.8 million as its share under the CARES Act Airport Grant, the CPA board has no intention at this time to lift austerity measures it earlier implemented after flights to the islands came to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds announced during a special board meeting Monday that the board considers it prudent to remain on austerity levels at 64 hours.
King-Hinds said that, under the CARES Act funding, the $22.8 million is basically to allow CPA to be self-sustainable and to be able to pay operation and maintenance costs, which includes personnel, utility, as well as the ability to keep the airport credit ratings stable.
“So this is good news for CPA definitely,” she said, as she disclosed that that they have been getting phone calls as to how this CARES Act grant will impact personnel and the current austerity measures that are in place.
The $22.8 million may seem like a sustainable amount, but King-Hinds pointed out that they don’t know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will impact operations. “So what we want to do basically is sustain this operation, using those funds for as long as we possibly can,” she said. “We will be continuously operating under such conditions and we ask everybody to bear with us as we face this challenge together.”
King-Hinds said it’s not like CPA is getting a huge chunk of money in the bank. She clarified that these CARES Act funds are held by the Federal Aviation Administration, that it is not deposited or transferred over to CPA. “What essentially happens is, we submit this request for reimbursement based on the funds that we’ve expended for operations and maintenance,” she said.
She said this is a drawdown type of situation and the funds are there to be expended as CPA needs it.
The chairwoman said another portion of the CARES Act that benefits CPA is the waiver on the local matching for Airport Improvement Program projects. “So now all of these [AIP projects] are federally funded. And we hope to begin addressing, working on those projects,” she said.