The latest COVID relief funding bill, passed by Congress in late December and signed by President Trump Dec. 27, includes about $2 billion in support for the nation’s airports, including $45 million for general aviation airports.
H.R. 133 also includes an additional $20 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which supports grants to small businesses experiencing temporary hardship and loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic. The package also provides an additional $15 billion in payroll support for air carriers, which also applies to many general aviation operators and businesses, and $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses to continue to meet their payroll obligations.
General aviation helps businesses of all sizes to transport tools and personnel, access plants and supply chains, and reach thousands of communities that are inaccessible by commercial air service. About 85% of the businesses that utilize general aviation are small- to mid-sized companies, and there are more than 5,000 airports across the country, with most commercial traffic operating out of the top 30 airports. As a result, for thousands of communities across the country, these aircraft and airports are a literal lifeline, supporting economic activity emergency services such as fire-fighting, law enforcement, medical transportation, search and rescue, powerline (sic) maintenance and pipeline inspection, and many other services, alliance officials note.
General aviation has also been vital in distributing personal protection equipment (PPE) to hospitals and rural communities across the county, as well as test samples to labs, and many other supplies to communities and patients in need.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, general aviation traffic has been down more than 20%, compared with the same period in 2019, alliance officials noted.