AAAE Calls for Continued Federal Support to Help Airports Address COVID-19 and Prepare for Recovery

May 6, 2020

At a hearing today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) President and CEO Todd Hauptli called on Washington to provide additional federal support to airports and their industry partners to address the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19 and to prepare for recovery and the changed airport operating environment. Hauptli also thanked the committee, Congress and the Administration for their support for $10 billion in assistance to airports as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Hauptli’s written statement can be viewed here.

At the hearing, Hauptli noted that with passenger levels down 90-95% from pre-COVID levels, airports stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue at a time they are making new investments to protect the health and safety of passengers and employees.

“Given the significant decline in aviation activity and revenue, and the precipitous drop in PFC collections that help support bond payments, airports will need additional federal assistance at least as large as the initial amount provided in the CARES Act,” Hauptli said. “And, Congress must also provide billions of dollars in financial support for other parts of the aviation ecosystem – general aviation airports, business aviation, concessionaires, and other airport partners that have been significantly impacted by the crisis.”

He noted that in addition to federal resources, the aviation industry needs clear and consistent federal guidelines and standards to protect passengers and workers now and as travel returns and to ensure there is not a patchwork of requirements across the aviation system.

“Airports are already working diligently to clean and sanitize their facilities, and they are taking steps to promote a touchless travel experience,” Hauptli said. “Face coverings are becoming more prevalent with airports, airlines, and our federal partners moving to require their use for passengers and employees throughout the travel journey. The matter of health screenings is another area requiring a consistent approach.

“We need clear and consistent processes and procedures throughout the aviation system so that passengers know what to expect regardless of the airline or airport they happen to choose for their travel.”

Hauptli also noted the importance of aviation to the economy and national recovery efforts.

“The aviation industry is an intricate, interconnected, just-in-time enterprise,” he said. “And while aviation 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.”