The US Regional Airline Association has reacted favourably to the US government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion stimulus bill that provides vital financial assistance to help the airline industry overcome the overwhelming impacts of coronavirus.
RAA says that, following the staggering reduction in air travel demand associated with covid-19, regional airline schedules have been drastically cut, resulting in a sudden and debilitating drop in revenue that, without this financial support, would otherwise force tens of thousands of furloughs.
Regional airlines have spent a decade rebuilding their workforce, and wish to avoid layoffs and protect this workforce at all costs. A near term infusion of payroll grants and guaranteed loans – directly to operating carriers – will do just this, helping to avoid furloughs and empowering regional airlines to maintain the “ready status” of employees needed to immediately restore air service to communities of all sizes as our economy recovers.
Air service offered exclusively by regional airlines provides an economic and cultural lifeline to communities with no other air service options.
Protecting regional airlines’ workforce is the only way to ensure continuation of air service to these small communities, which is explicitly directed by the Act.
In fact, two-thirds of US airports rely exclusively on regional airlines for their only source of air service. While these airports may be smaller, their economic footprint is large: air service to airports exclusively or primarily by regional airlines drives $134 billion in US economic activity each year, creates 1 million jobs and generates a conservative $36 billion in wages and tax revenues for local communities.
In the coming days, RAA says it will work closely with the Secretaries of Treasury and Transportation to ensure the direct financial assistance, a crucial element for regional airlines, is accessible and apportioned in a manner that allows regional airlines to directly support their workforce.
RAA president & CEO Faye Malarkey Black noted: “Lawmakers in the House and Senate, along with their staff and members of the Administration worked day and night to advance this measure and, on behalf of the 70,000 women and men working for regional airlines, we are tremendously grateful.”
Black concluded: “Keeping our employees working not only helps restart the economy quickly, it means air service will be there for everyone — urban centres and rural communities alike – when our economy rebounds.”