A coalition of six leading general and business aviation associations has written to Speaker Pelosi and Leaders McConnell, McCarthy, and Schumer asking for relief assistance in response to COVID-19 for the general aviation industry, which supports 1.2 million jobs and provides $247 billion in economic output for the US.
The general and business aviation industry is comprised of small to mid-size businesses that provide all operations other than the scheduled commercial airlines and military, which generates $77 billion in labour income, supporting communities throughout the U.S.
The letter, led by the National Business Aviation Association and supported by NATA and others, points out the volatility of the current situation and possible long-term impacts on this important segment of the industry: “Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no certainty as to when economic conditions will improve, which threatens the survival and prospects of thousands of general aviation businesses. Further, the threat of potential domestic travel restrictions and locally imposed travel restrictions have the potential to cause even more significant harm to these companies as this crisis continues.”
The coalition is calling for the consideration of all air carriers, including air charter and fractional operators, in a relief package similar to what was offered in the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilisation Act passed after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The letter emphasises the vital connections, emergency response and other services provided by these businesses: “With scheduled airlines serving only ten-percent of our nation's 5,000 airports, air carriers that provide charter services under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations and fractional providers operating under Part 91 subpart K provide connectivity to thousands of communities with no other air service. In addition to transporting passengers, Part 135 operators conduct almost all air ambulance flights and are a critical part of the network to deliver organs for transplant. Without both near and medium to long-term relief, many of these air carriers will not survive, resulting in job losses and significant disruptions to the critical services that they provide every day.”
The groups requested consideration for programmes that would provide the most support to the industry including medium to long-term liquidity assistance and relief from air transportation excise taxes.
Timothy Obitts, the president and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association, was joined by the leaders of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, and National Business Aviation Association in signing the letter.
In another letter to US DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, a coalition of five leading business and general aviation associations have highlighted the industry's vital role in responding to, and assisting in, mitigating the challenges of COVID-19.
The letter states, “The general and business aviation industry is comprised of a diverse fleet, capable of rapidly responding to needs in every part of the country and transporting time sensitive supplies, medical and testing equipment, organ transplants and key personnel and patients to over 5,000 general aviation airports.”
Further, it emphasises the vast experience of our collective members in the country's times of great need; “In times of crisis, the businesses our associations represent have assisted with disaster relief by providing evacuation flights, delivering supplies and surveying damage. The missions our member companies undertake are vitally important and they have considerable experience operating during emergencies.”