April 17, 2020

The U.S. DOT and FAA have unveiled a program to provide $10 billion in emergency funding to the nation’s airports, as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. NBAA supported such funding for airports and worked with the General Aviation (GA) Caucus to encourage the FAA administrator to ensure that funds are distributed quickly.

“All GA airports have been drastically impacted, resulting in a major drop across multiple revenue sources, and we appreciate that the FAA is distributing in just a few weeks nearly three times as much funding as the agency typically provides annually,” said NBAA Director of Airports and Ground Infrastructure Alex Gertsen. “This critical relief is needed for airports to continue to remain operational and to be ready to serve business aviation once operations rebound.”

Under the program, GA airports have been allocated $100 million in grants divided among five categories: smaller “unclassified” airports are eligible for $1,000, with amounts increasing for “basic” ($20,000), “local” ($30,000) and “regional” ($69,000) facilities, and up to $157,000 for larger “national” airports.

The FAA encourages airport sponsors to spend funds expeditiously to reduce the adverse impacts of the current public health emergency, thus benefiting businesses and tenants at airports seeking rent relief and other forms of aid. One unique element of this CARES Act funding is that it does not require a local match.

“We are now dealing with one of the biggest shocks to our economy in our country’s history,” said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in an April 14 conference call with aviation stakeholders, including NBAA. “All of you have dedicated your life to this industry to make sure that airports, which are the gateways to our aviation system, remain vibrant and operational. When we come out of this, airports are going to be essential to the recovery of our economy and our population.”

Chao said the goal is to distribute funding as soon as April 21.

Kirk Shaffer, the FAA’s associate administrator for airports, stated that traffic levels nationwide have dropped to less than one-tenth of normal.

“It’s hard to believe that just months ago, our operating system of airports was flourishing, providing the finest and safest service possible to the traveling public,” said Shaffer. “That was then, this is now; the COVID-19 pandemic went right to the heart of our airport system.”

Gertsen complimented both agencies on the swiftness of getting the much-needed grant funding available with unprecedented speed, just a few weeks after the signing of the CARES Act.

Today at 11 a.m. ET, Gertsen and Shaffer will be joined by four GA airport executives on an interactive NBAA News Hour webinar titled “Airports in the COVID-19 Environment and What You Should Expect.” The program will provide more insights into the CARES Act airport funding and the challenges experienced by airports around the country as well as an opportunity for aircraft operators to share their stories. 

Today’s webinar recording will be made available after the event at the NBAA News Hour home page.