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As Merced Mayor Mike Murphy puts it, “the fed giveth” and “taketh away.”

Allocated $16.9 million in CARES Act funding, the Merced Regional Airport saw its allocation slashed to $3.3 million this week.

Even though that’s a huge cut, Murphy says the allocation is significant and will be put toward capital improvements.

Original Allocation Verified, Then Slashed

“When we got the first notice from the FAA, we felt the need to check with our contacts in D.C., and the ($16.9 million) amount was verified,” Murphy said Wednesday.

Then Rep. Jim Costa’s office sent out a news release last Friday touting more than $30 million in CARES Act funding for airports in the 16th Congressional District.

Merced Regional led the list followed by Fresno Yosemite International Airport at $12.9 million.

However, the FAA later notified Murphy of the reduction.

Merced Serves About 9,000 Passengers a Year

The Merced airport offers three daily roundtrips daily to Los Angeles at a cost of $49 each way, as well as flights to Sacramento.

Because the FAA classifies the airport as rural, it receives federal subsidies to reduce ticket prices.

In recent years, the airport has serviced about 9,000 passengers annually. Murphy’s hope is that eclipses 10,000 passengers in the coming years and becomes eligible for increased FAA support.

The CARES Act provided about $10 billion to the nation’s airports to counter the severe economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles International topped California recipients with $324 million, and San Francisco International received $255 million.

Although the funds are designated for airport operating expenses such as payroll and debt service, they can be used for construction projects with FAA approval.

(GV Wire/Alexis DeSha)

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