AAAE Commends House Leaders for Addressing Airport, Aviation Industry in Coronavirus Relief Proposal

Sept. 29, 2020

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) applauded the inclusion of relief for airports, airlines, and airport concessionaires in an updated version of HEROES Act legislation unveiled on Sept. 28 by House Democratic leaders to address ongoing coronavirus relief needs.

“With the aviation industry struggling to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and with the prospects for recovery growing increasingly uncertain, we are grateful to Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leaders for their efforts to advance meaningful relief to airports, airlines, and concessionaires,” AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli said. “Aviation not only allows for the movement of people and goods across the country and around the planet, it is also the oxygen that fuels our economy, and we need a healthy industry in order to return to a healthy economy. The scale and scope of this crisis require immediate action, and we are gratified that both parties in both chambers of Congress have signaled their support for providing relief to airports and the aviation ecosystem.”

The proposed relief included in the revised House Democratic bill would provide $13.5 billion in critical resources to airports to help keep workers on the job; allow critical projects to move forward; assist airport concessionaires and address ongoing financial obligations including debt payments and increased operational expenses for cleaning, sanitization, and other public health measures. The proposal also extends the airline Payroll Support Program, which AAAE strongly supports. The Senate Republican Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, unveiled in late July, also included a proposed $10 billion in assistance to airports.

Like other segments of the aviation industry, the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on airports have been severe. Passenger levels were down as much as 95% system-wide for an extended time and are still at only 25 to 30 percent of previous levels. Billions in revenue that airports expected to be generated by travelers has evaporated. Billions more in anticipated passenger facility charge (PFC) collections has also disappeared, depriving airports of a key source of revenue to support bond payments. Airports hold nearly $100 billion in collective debt, with some $7 billion in airport bond principal and interest payments due in 2020.

“The proposed funding included in the House Democratic package would help airports, airlines, and concessionaires weather the storm of dramatically reduced passengers, which appears likely for the foreseeable future,” Hauptli added. “We look forward to working with the bipartisan leadership of Congress to gain passage of a final package that helps airports and the entire aviation ecosystem survive through the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”