This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
VALPARAISO — Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport officials were notified Thursday they will receive $12.4 million in federal stimulus money.
Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview and Destin Executive Airport each received grants of $69,000, according to Okaloosa County Airports Director Tracy Stage.
RELATED: Physically, not socially distanced - Locals find ways to celebrate milestones in a pandemic
"We’re working with the Federal Aviation Administration on the airports allocations as there are several different buckets of funding and how it is applied and utilized, " Stage said. "We’re grateful to be receiving this funding."
The DeFuniak Springs airport in Walton County received a $30,000 grant, according to a Federal Aviation Administration website.
RELATED: Santa Rosa County could consider re-opening Navarre Beach next week
The money will be used at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport to cover operational expenses and to help with payroll, which means the airports won’t lose staff, Stage said.
RELATED: Upside down American flag at Walton County business attracts public criticism
"It keeps the workforce in place while they adjust schedules to meet essential air travel needs," he said.
Stage said Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is basically empty at this point with very few arrivals and departures.
"You can hear a pin drop," he said.
County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, who serves as the county’s liaison to the airports, said some of the funds will also go toward paying down debt.
While a major renovation at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport has been postponed as the coronavirus runs its course, some funds will be put toward expansion planning.
"A lot has stopped since the beaches were closed," Ketchel said.
Importantly, the federal government money comes to the airport with no requirement that matching dollars be taken from its operating enterprise fund.
Funding was made possible through passage of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act which allocated $10 billion for economic relief to eligible airports, according to the FAA website.
It "will allow critical safety and capacity projects to continue as planned," the website said.
Airports that see more than 10,000 passengers boarded each year received additional funding based on that total.