To better assist its members in this challenging time, the National Air Transportation Association is hard at work continuing to emphasise the immense value of the industry and advocate on its members behalf. Capitol Hill is moving at a frenetic pace, and this is an all hands-on deck moment for the industry. NATA is working diligently on the Hill and has expanded its resources by hiring additional lobbyists to help in its efforts in ensuring that all aviation businesses are considered for federal assistance. To that end, the association has spoken to its members to find out where it may maximise these resources, resulting in the following areas of concentration:
NATA will provide relief to aviation fuel suppliers by converting the unsecured credit provided by the fuel suppliers to their “consumers,” (defined as airlines, police/fire and rescue organisations, medical ambulance, medical transport, cargo operators, Part 135, 125, 91k, and 91 operators, airports, and aviation businesses (FBO and MRO/repair stations)) to federally guaranteed loans. Additionally, for a period of six months, all lines of credits to consumers will be federally guaranteed.
The association will also provide relief to fixed base operators (FBOs) that provide unsecured credit to the airlines for aviation fuel and ancillary services by converting the unsecured credit provided by the FBOs to federally guaranteed loans. Additionally, for a period of six months, all lines of credits to airlines from FBOs will be federally guaranteed.
For a period of six months, FBOs and aviation businesses (MRO/repair stations, flights schools, and Part 135 certificated operators) or the master leaseholder, providing services to the general public and general and business aviation operators (including Part 135, 125, 91k, and 91 operators) at airports shall not be required to pay lease obligations to the airport or their master leaseholder/landlord. The lease obligation shall be paid by the federal government out of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, and entities participating in this relief programme shall repay (interest free) over a period of 30 years, starting one year from the date they took advantage of programme. (The AATF currently has a $17 billion surplus).
Aviation fuel tax through the end of 2020 for general aviation aircraft operations, i.e., Part 135, 125, 91k, and 91 will be suspended. NATA will seek the same benefits for Part 135, Part 125, and Part 91k operators as afforded to the airlines (see below for efforts already underway).
Federal, state and municipal agencies that receive federal assistance related to COVID-19 will be required to contract with Part 135 certificated operators with less than 150 employees to move supplies, equipment, medical personnel as needed during the crisis, unless there is an existing contract with a Part 135 certificated operator with more than 150 employees.
As the industry works through these challenging times, NATA wants to make businesses aware of potential assistance opportunities. The U.S. Small Business Administration works with states to make disaster relief loans available to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan programme provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Small business owners in the following designated states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19): California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. "If you have experience with the application process, please share your feedback on the process and outcome with us," says Timothy Obitts, NATA president and CEO. "Your feedback will assist us as we work with the various agencies to ensure you are included in these programmes."
NATA has joined a broad coalition in a letter to congressional leadership asking them to “act as quickly as possible to financially protect our industry and the livelihood of our employees, who are the backbone of aviation.” Earlier this week, NATA sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, co-signed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the Helicopter Association International (HAI), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). The letter stressed the crucial role general aviation (GA) plays in disaster relief and asked that the administration carefully consider our industry's role if it pursues future domestic restrictions on travel. The same associations were joined by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in sending a letter to congressional leadership asking for federal assistance for Part 135 and 91K operators.
NATA is also drawing on the expertise of members and other leaders in various fields to roll out a series of webinars on aircraft sanitation, employment law, risk mitigation, and other vital topics. Finally, in an effort to keep members apprised of its efforts and what is happening in Congress and at the agencies, the NATA team is providing briefings that will be sent periodically and can also be found on its Coronavirus Resource Page.