Bolen Urges Congress to Expand Support as GA Grapples With COVID-19

May 6, 2020

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen asked 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.

“Since early March, general aviation operations have declined more than 70 percent, resulting in severe economic consequences for a wide variety of businesses, from aircraft operators to airports and aviation manufacturers,” reads the testimony submitted for the hearing, “The State of the Aviation Industry: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” convened May 6 by committee chairman Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).

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 based operators.

“Your efforts to provide near and mid-term relief for air carriers and small businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) injected much-needed funds into general aviation businesses,” Bolen continued. “Still, we believe additional assistance will be necessary. The uncertainty as to the longer-term prospects for aviation requires us to think creatively.”

Read Bolen’s May 6 written testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee. (PDF)

Visit NBAA’s online CARES Act resource.

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.

“This uncertainty as to potential support presents significant challenges to general aviation businesses that are already struggling to survive,” Bolen wrote. “As Congress continues its oversight of CARES Act programs, we respectfully request that you work with the Treasury Department to provide additional details on the timeline for a decision on payroll support payments to applicants.”

Despite these challenges, Bolen also emphasized that GA and business aviation operators continue to link communities through a network of more than 5,000 airports and provide critical support to communities of all sizes through a broad variety of relief efforts, including missions coordinated through NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) database.

“Business and general aviation are resilient, and we will recover from this crisis; however, the road ahead will be very challenging,” he concluded. “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.”