National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) president and CEO Ed Bolen has announced a significant reduction to the organisation's workforce, both to address challenges raised by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to retain a sharp focus on advocacy, strategic communications, operational support, the production of NBAA-BACE and other events, and other priorities for the association and industry.
“As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging organisations of every kind, and NBAA is certainly not immune to those challenges,” Bolen says. “We are working to address the challenge by looking at all aspects of our business, including significant reductions to our workforce, consistent with what we are seeing in the aviation community and beyond. This difficult but necessary step will ensure that we are strategically positioned to meet a rapidly changing series of demands, while also focusing on the initiatives essential to our members. The decisions we're making have been among our most difficult ever, but I firmly believe they are appropriate to ensure NBAA and business aviation will thrive as we look to the future.”
Bolen has also asked the US Congress to build on the CARES Act in calling for continued, targeted relief for the nation's general aviation (GA) industry, including business aviation, in written testimony submitted before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Among the relief measures requested by NBAA include expanding the temporary suspension of certain air transportation excise taxes to include non-commercial GA fuel taxes. Bolen explained that measure will serve, “as a catalyst to help small general aviation businesses recover once the immediate crisis begins to recede,” with the resulting boost in traffic bolstering the nation's GA airports and a variety of small businesses including flight schools and fixed base operators.
Bolen also thanked lawmakers for championing payroll support measures, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), under the original CARES Act and subsequent expansions, but also called on lawmakers to ensure that payroll support funds to air cargo operators and eligible contractors are distributed in a timely manner by the Treasury Department. He further expressed concerns that payroll support applications have not yet been approved for some Part 135 air charter operators and requested that Treasury officials continue to show flexibility in working with these small businesses.
“Business and general aviation are resilient, and we will recover from this crisis; however, the road ahead will be very challenging,” he concludes. “The CARES Act helped respond to some of the immediate challenges our community is facing, but additional long-term relief will be necessary over the coming months.”
Meanwhile NATA has submitted a statement to the US 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 prioritised in the CARES Act and support rural America did not receive assistance under Title IV.”