Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Travelers make their way through security before boarding their planes at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on Jan. 12, 2021.

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The Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport received more than $4 million to cover operating expenses from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Friday afternoon news releases from Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines.

Airport director Brian Sprenger said the funding will be used for operating expenses while the airport is recovering from the drop in passengers it saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes paying maintenance and law enforcement personnel and things like keeping the power on and the parking lot plowed.

“It allows us to focus on the needs of the airport to continue recovery, and allocate funds correctly for both operating expenses but then, if income comes up in other areas that we need capital expenditures then that income can be used for the capital expenditure because we have our operating expenses covered by this grant,” Sprenger said.

The funding comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which passed in December with the support of all but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

“Nearly a year into this pandemic, it’s critical that we’re making investments into our transportation infrastructure so we can ensure that our communities are able to bolster their local economies and keep folks connected,” Tester said in a statement.

“These grants will deliver much needed economic relief to our airports and in turn help support hospitality jobs by bringing more visitors to our great state,” Daines said in a statement.

The money is part of more than $20 million going to Montana airports, including $3.6 million for the Billings Logan International Airport, $3.3 million for the Missoula International Airport, $2.8 million for the Glacier International Airport in Kalispell, $1.8 million for the Great Falls International Airport, $1.4 million for the Helena Regional Airport, $1 million for the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte and $1 million for the Sidney-Richland Regional Airport.

Many smaller airports, like the Colstrip, Big Sandy and Eureka airports, received between $9,000 and $13,000 from the funding. The Ennis-Big Sky airport received $13,000.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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