SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara City Council has approved of a $9.5 million federal grant that will be used to keep the Santa Barbara Airport afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
The airport has seen a loss of 95 percent of all their passengers since mid-March, resulting in a steep decline in profit from travelers.
The Santa Barbara Airport is required by federal law to be self-sustaining and generate its own revenue. Nearly 60 percent of the airport's total revenue comes from ticket sales and additional revenue comes from car rentals, parking fees and restaurant visits. It receives no local tax revenue.
The grant comes from the Federal CARES Act, which aims to save essential airport jobs and keep airports from defaulting on loans.
The grant will help the Santa Barbara Airport stay in operation until the economy -- and travelers -- return.
“The money we make from airlines and passengers assures that we can do everything from keeping the airfield lights on, mowing the grass around the runways, to making sure that every person who comes or goes from SBA does so safely,” said airport’s director Henry Thompson in a news release. “We are grateful for the grant, because unlike the number of passengers, our costs to operate do not fluctuate much.”
Thompson says $5 million of the grant will be used specifically to pay for facility loans. The remainder will be used to to keep the airport maintenance in tact and keep at least 90 percent of the airport's employees on staff.
In 2019, nearly a million passengers traveled through the Santa Barbara Airport.