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US congressional bill wins NBAA and HAI approval
$900 billion in COVID-19 relief, attached to a $1.4 trillion year-end omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year, provides additional relief for citizens and companies, including air carriers.

NBAA has applauded US congressional passage of a bill to deliver additional coronavirus relief and provide government appropriations for fiscal year 2021. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Trump this week.

The $900 billion in COVID-19 relief, attached to a $1.4 trillion year-end omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year, provides additional relief for citizens and companies, including air carriers. The bill also advances numerous NBAA priorities, including the availability of payroll support for general aviation air carriers.

Among the many provisions in the bill is an additional $15 billion to fund and extend the air carrier payroll support programme, for which general aviation air carriers are eligible. The bill also contains $2 billion in relief for the nation's airports, with $45 million specifically allocated for general aviation airports.

“This new, bipartisan relief package provides an important and helpful path forward as we all work to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Our industry continued to make our voices heard in Congress, ensuring these important provisions to support general aviation airports, air carriers, businesses and workers were maintained and expanded as we continue to navigate through this unprecedented crisis.”

The appropriations portion of the bill contains NBAA-supported language calling for the FAA to develop a programme that allows private aircraft operators to block their Mode S transponder code and similar identifying information from real-time or near real-time public tracking.

“This important victory for our industry codifies the enhanced privacy and security protections available to business aircraft owners and operators under the Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed (LADD) programme,” Bolen continues. “Implementation of a dedicated FAA privacy programme will mark the culmination of NBAA's steadfast efforts to ensure operator anonymity protections are successfully maintained in the ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) environment.”

The COVID relief measure also allocates $284 billion for first and second forgivable loans under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which further allows loan recipients to deduct payroll costs and other expenses covered by forgiven loans from their taxes.

Also, the bill provides $20 billion in new funding to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for small businesses and extends the employee retention tax credit, passed under the CARES Act, allowing qualifying employers to take a tax credit on a portion of their employment tax obligations.

Helicopter Association International (HAI) has also welcomed the passage. “A significant portion of our member companies are small businesses, many of whom have had their operations severely disrupted as a result of the pandemic,” says HAI president and CEO Jim Viola. “Programmes like the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses and the Payroll Support Program for air carriers have been vital lifelines to keeping their companies running and their employees on the payroll. We are very pleased to see additional funding and much needed-improvements to the programmes included in the legislation.”

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