On March 11, the Alliance for Aviation Across America welcomed the passage of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provides COVID-19 pandemic relief for businesses, airports and communities across the country. The bill passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 50-49 this past Saturday, and the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday with a 220-211 vote. The bill was signed into law by President Biden on Thursday.
The legislation includes $14 billion in Payroll Support Program (PSP) to air carriers, including for commercial general aviation operators. It provides $8 billion in support for airports, including $100 million specifically for non-primary airports. The relief package also includes $15 billion for additional Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) funding, which helps small businesses to weather temporary hardship and loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic.
H.R. 1319 also included a provision to allow certain aviation employers to receive up to 50 percent of the cost of base compensation and benefits for the 25 percent of its employees most at risk of furlough or layoff, excluding senior executive employees.
“We welcome passage of this legislation, which supports the businesses, airports and communities that depend on general aviation at a time when they have been hit particularly hard by this global pandemic. We look forward to working with Members of Congress and the Administration to ensure that we continue to support this important part of our infrastructure.”
General aviation helps businesses of all sizes to operate more efficiently, visit different jobsites, and travel with the tools they need, among many other uses. 85 percent of the businesses that utilize general aviation are small- to mid-sized businesses. There are more than 5,000 airports across the country, and most scheduled airline service goes through a small portion of these airports. As a result, for thousands of communities across the country, general aviation also supports emergency services such as fire-fighting, law enforcement, medical transport, search and rescue, crop protection, power maintenance and many other services. In total general aviation supports more than 1.1 million American jobs, and an economic impact of $247 billion per year.
This is especially important now as general aviation aircraft and airports are helping to deliver vaccines to many communities, including rural areas in particular, where the combination of the temperature requirements of the vaccinees and limited transportation options often make small aircraft the most practical option. General aviation is also helping to support the delivery of test samples to labs, personal protection equipment (PPE) and other supplies to hospitals and rural communities across the county.
Overall, across the country, general aviation traffic has been down by about 15 percent, compared with the same period in 2019.