This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
As U.S. lawmakers work to hammer out the final details of a third relief bill, business and general aviation groups have been pushing for recognition of the harm that the extended Covid-19 crisis will play on the industry and seeking assistance in this or future bills covering a range of activities.
Congress hopes to hammer out a compromise shortly that would include some relief to airlines and more general relief that could assist aviation and other businesses, ranging from grants, loans, unemployment assistance, and payroll help. The airline proposals have varied from $50 billion in loans to, reportedly, $25 billion in grants. A House proposal would have tied assistance to airlines to emissions guarantees—something sought by environmental groups but drawing strong opposition from Republican leaders. While still unclear early on Tuesday, the airline assistance is believed to apply to the FAR Part 135 community, as well as Part 121. A separate provision providing excise tax relief appears limited to the 4.3 cents-per-gallon tax on commercial aviation fuel.
Organizations representing various aspects of the business and general aviation community last week urged lawmakers to consider excise tax relief and yesterday asked for help for small airports. In a letter to congressional leaders, seven organizations asked that lawmakers, in potential future legislation, ensure “a specific amount [is] set-aside exclusively for small and general aviation airports that serve thousands of communities across the country and which have also been impacted by this situation.”
The organizations stressed the critical role these airports play in transporting goods and services during times of emergency and natural disasters, as well as serving as a lifeline to local communities. That letter came from AOPA, GAMA HAI, NATA, NBAA, EAA, and NASAO.
Other letters and requests have highlighted the strains on small businesses, including suppliers, the need for liquidity and lease obligations relief, and the importance that the airspace remains open to key activities.