The Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors on Tuesday approved new, temporary authorities for Executive Director Angela Padalecki to address and take action regarding the needs and requests of airport tenants during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moving forward, Padalecki can work with tenants on deferring payments to the airport, adjust a tenant’s hours of operation, waive administrative and other fees, adjust the labor and personnel requirements for airport staff or coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration about closing the airport if necessary without formal board approval. The board also created a COVID-19 subcommittee made up of board members Linde Marshall and Clay Tufly.

As airlines cut back on flights across the country in April and May, the airport is expecting to see fewer flights in the near future due to COVID-19.

But all airlines — except Denver Air Connection — are continuing operations at the airport, even as more cuts are expected.

Over the weekend, American Airlines announced it was cutting service out of airports in Montrose, Aspen, Vail, Gunnison and Steamboat Springs in April, Padalecki said during a virtual board meeting. In some of the areas, service was only anticipated for a few weeks during the month before the crisis.

The board also saw a video on the impacts of COVID-19 made by Volaire Aviation Consulting that noted the unprecedented impacts of the virus on the airline industry.

“It’s not an uplifting video, but not unanticipated,” Board Chair Tom Benton said during the meeting.

Originally, the airport was to see an uptick in flights and seating capacity starting in April, but with reductions already announced, the airport will see a dip with more reductions anticipated as the crisis goes on. The airport is also seeing day-of cancellations of flights.

With the reductions at other airports in the region, Padalecki said it’s critical that the Grand Junction airport stay operational. The airport also saw heavy diversion traffic last week related to snowstorms in Denver and the earthquake in Salt Lake City.

During the meeting, the board also amended Padalecki’s contract to increase her pay 3.5% after conducting a performance review. Padalecki’s salary will increase from $164,320 to $170,070 with an effective date of Jan. 8. She will also receive a one-time bonus of $800. The airport’s 2020 budget allotted for a 4% increase in staff salaries.

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