Today, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) submitted a statement to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the impacts of COVID-19 discussing the business aviation industry and outlining policy recommendations. Committee Chairman U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) convened a hearing today titled, “The State of the Aviation Industry: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” to receive an update on the current status of the aviation industry, address challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
“Commercial aviation in the U.S. can only function because it is a part of an interconnected industry that relies heavily on a general aviation workforce for supply chain, service, support, and workforce development,” NATA President and CEO Timothy Obitts noted in the statement.
Obitts went on to highlight the unique services provided by aviation businesses, “An essential lifeline to rural America, general aviation companies operate at nearly 4,500 airports and thousands of cities that are not served at all by the airlines but are nonetheless impacted by major changes in industry activity. The aviation activity in these cities and towns supports good paying jobs, economic activity, and connectedness. General aviation airports and general aviation businesses support EMS, agriculture flights, police work, Border Patrol, executive transport, cargo, flight schools, vocational schools, research, drones, powerline patrol, pipeline patrol, conservation efforts, fire control/fighting, construction, seismic work, sightseeing, organ transport, non-emergency medical transport, charter, and providing medical staff from major cities to the community to provide routine medical service.”
But, the statement observes, “many of the businesses that support the existence of the commercial airline industry that Congress prioritized in the CARES Act and support rural America did not receive assistance under Title IV.”
“The recommendations provided in the statement are based on industry experience with the implementation of the CARES Act, and a potentially lengthy recovery period,” stated Obitts. “NATA thanks Chairman Wicker and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for their engagement on this issue and for allowing us to highlight the status of aviation businesses and the challenges they face.”
The statement says that “lease obligations also represent one of the largest vulnerabilities during times of reduced aviation activity. But because the airport sponsors rely on this revenue to finance the day-to-day operation of the airport itself, when tenants are unable to meet payroll obligations and the terms of their tenancy agreement with their airport sponsors, it imperils the ability of the airport to operate safely and efficiently.”
Further, the statement recommends “Departments of Treasury and Transportation to analyze the amount of airport sponsors’ revenues that account from the lease obligations of certain tenant businesses, and then to provide a level of relief equal to that amount with the requirement that airport sponsors abate lease obligations over the term of the assistance provided.”
Visit NATA’s Coronavirus Resource Page.