ROCKFORD — The Chicago Rockford International Airport will receive $18.6 million in federal grant dollars as part of a funding package to Illinois’ airports.


U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced Wednesday in a news release that airports throughout Illinois will receive a total of nearly $70 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to address the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The funding — which was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – will help airport operators meet ongoing needs and manage current construction projects as revenues have plummeted.


Of that nearly $70 million, Rockford’s $18.6 million and Decatur’s $17.5 million account for the lion’s share of the money.


Mike Dunn, executive director of the Rockford airport, could not immediately be reached for comment.


Durbin said: "The aviation industry is facing the steepest decline in air travel in history, threatening thousands of jobs in Illinois. This critical federal funding will help airports around our state stay afloat and continue operations.


"Sen. Duckworth and I will continue working to provide relief for Illinoisans during this unprecedented crisis."


Duckworth added: "Making sure our airports across Illinois continue to have the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic is important. I’m proud to join Sen. Durbin in announcing this infusion of federal funding through (the) CARES Act to help support our state’s transportation systems."


The CARES Act provided $10 billion in federal assistance to commercial and general aviation airports nationwide. The funds can be used for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses, including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.


Chris Green: cgreen@rrstar.com; @chrisfgreen