San Jose airport receives more federal funding for COVID-19 recovery
The Mineta San Jose International Airport saw a significant drop in passengers during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Mineta San Jose International Airport.

After facing one of the highest drops in passenger traffic in the country, San Jose’s airport is getting a big break — nearly $55.5 million from the federal government to help it recover from COVID-19.

The grant funding, which comes from the American Rescue Plan, was announced by Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

“For more than a year, the pandemic has placed a significant strain on our nation’s airports and aviation workers,” Lofgren said. “I supported the American Rescue Plan to provide much-needed aid to families, workers, and businesses and bring us to closer to a safe return to normalcy. These funds will help ensure San Jose’s primary airport can maintain its operations and continue serving the South Bay.”

The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress to help the nation recover from the pandemic. President Joe Biden signed it into law in March.

The Airport Rescue Grants awarded to the Mineta San Jose International Airport are part of $8 billion provided to airports and airport concessions around the nation to prevent and respond to COVID-19.

Keonnis Taylor, a spokesperson for the airport, said the money will help pay off the airport’s debt, operating costs and concession programs.

“We are moving steadily toward recovery,” Taylor told San José Spotlight. “These funds will be allocated toward (these services and programs) that were impacted by COVID-19.”

According to a San José Spotlight analysis in May, the city-owned airport saw a 53% drop in passengers in early April of this year compared to before the pandemic. Both San Jose and San Francisco are in the top five airports with the biggest reduction in passengers.

San Jose’s drop in passengers is almost twice the national average of approximately 28%.

A worker at Norman Y. Mineta-San Jose International Airport cleans a social distancing floor sticker at one of the terminals. Photo courtesy of Norman Y. Mineta-San Jose International Airport.
An airport worker cleans a social distancing floor sticker at one of the terminals. Photo courtesy of Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Taylor said specific distributions have not yet been decided by airport leadership.

Money from the grant can be used for operations, personnel, cleaning, debt services and any programs that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at airports.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics show domestic passenger traffic across the U.S. was down 59% in 2020 compared to before the pandemic.

The $55.5 million awarded to the downtown airport is the latest in a wave of funding to support its operations.

In March, Lofgren announced $1.6 million for the airport’s economic recovery from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act. The airport in April 2020 received more than $65.6 million in funding from the CARES Act.

Taylor said airport officials and workers appreciate the support they’ve received from Lofgren.

“(We) are grateful for the work and representation of our elected officials advocating for our airport and region,” Taylor said.

Contact Stephanie Lam at [email protected] or follow @StephCLam on Twitter.

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