Coronavirus response | Willard Airport receives $1.4 million federal grant | Coronavirus

SAVOY — Willard Airport has received $1.4 million from the federal government through the COVID-19 relief bill approved in December.

The grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration builds on the $1.8 million it received last April.

“We anticipate this funding will sustain our revenue losses for at least another year,” Executive Director Tim Bannon said.

These funds will be used for operational expenses, debt service payments and COVID-19-related costs.

“The funding will go towards operating expenses such as salaries, maintenance, and safety precautions essential to keeping the airport operational,” he said. “A portion of the money will also be allocated for airport concessions relief.”

The $22,600 going toward concessions will mostly go toward the car rental companies at Willard, Bannon said, not the Einstein Bros. Bagels, which suspended operations at the airport after the pandemic hit.

“We look forward to Einstein re-opening their Willard location in the future,” Bannon said.

He’s hopeful the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will help travelers feel more comfortable flying, but said it could take a while.

“Vaccines will certainly assist the airport with long term recovery of flight frequency, and passengers,” he said. “The airline industry as a whole will likely take a couple of years to fully recover from the pandemic.”

For now: “Willard remains at approximately half capacity with flights, when compared to our pre-pandemic schedule. Passenger numbers remain down in excess of 60 percent.”