On June 4th, the Department of Transportation issued a final order on adjustments to service obligations, granting point exemptions to 15 Covered Carriers. As air carrier service at commercial airports slowly recovers, general aviation remains uniquely able to provide access and connectivity to thousands of airports around the country.
The DOT issued a Show Cause Order 2020-5-5 on May 22, 2020, tentatively granting point exemptions to the 15 carriers. Interested parties were given until May 28, 2020 to file comments or objections to the Department’s tentative findings. Some of the comments noted the proposed exemptions would result in significant job losses, decreased access to transportation for or in support of medical treatment, interruptions for those using air service to commute to work or visit clients, and reduced service for areas that depend upon tourism, as well as other detriments to the local and national economies.
According to the order, “The Department declines to modify our tentative findings with regard to Portland, Maine; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Rochester, Minnesota; and Palm Springs, California. Consistent with our commitment in the Notice, these points will continue to receive air service from other Covered Carriers, ensuring that they retain air service through at least September 30, 2020.”
“The utility of general aviation services when faced by a shrinking airline footprint is not a new topic of conversation. However, lately, we are hearing that more and more communities are realizing the vital benefits that general aviation businesses provide as a critical link to services, lifeline for medical response, tool to support and mobilize their workforce, and in some cases, a means to even grow their business during a pandemic,” stated NATA President and CEO Timothy Obitts. “NATA represents over 3,400 aviation businesses, servicing the vast majority of airports throughout America. For the past 80 years, NATA has served to empower our members to be safe, secure, and efficient – a mission we share with each and every one of them.”
“As air service demand rebounds, general aviation businesses are uniquely positioned to quickly and efficiently assist in providing essential services that support and empower people, businesses, and communities nationwide,” added Obitts.