Following today’s markup by the House Financial Services Committee of S. Con. Res 5, Regional Airline Association (RAA) President and CEO Faye Malarkey Black offered this statement:
“RAA applauds the advancement of critical legislation helping American businesses, workers and families cope with harm from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our members and their workforce are grateful the package includes $15 billion to airline employees and contractors to extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP). We thank House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and House Financial Service Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) for their leadership in passing this extension out of committee. Every dollar of the PSP3 program will help support non-executive payroll, avoiding dramatic furloughs upon the expiration of the current program. By helping to keep workers trained and at the ready, regional airlines will be better positioned to support our country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the House of Representatives to quickly pass this extension as part of a larger Budget Reconciliation Package.
Despite the minimum air service guarantees included in the CARES package and subsequent extensions, communities have already seen monumental air service reductions. A review of air service data in November 2020, as CARES Act air service minimums lapsed, showed a dramatic reduction in frequencies and markets, with smaller communities experiencing the most accelerated rate of reduction and exit. Compared with the same month in 2019, overall frequency was down by 43 percent and one in five markets receiving air service in 2019 was no longer being served. Newspaper reports highlighted additional communities experiencing a total loss of air service, with devastating economic consequences. Other communities continue to experience dramatic deterioration in frequency, destination options and competition. Passengers once able to fly nonstop to multiple markets now face fewer destination choices – adding hours, miles and additional costs to their journeys. In addition to embracing the PSP extension, RAA will continue to work with the 117th Congress to strengthen small community air service, including protecting crucial programs such as the Essential Air Service program.
As we embrace and appreciate this latest PSP extension, RAA urges the Department of Treasury to quickly process PSP2 awards that still have not been provided to small carriers who applied immediately for the program and have yet to hear their status. To date, the Department has not yet announced PSP awards for over 300 small carriers despite the program being extended in December 2020. These carriers are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. In 2020, four regional airlines ceased operating due to pandemic harm.
RAA is grateful to Congress for advancing another round of this critical workforce support and stands ready to work with Treasury to continue processing currently pending applications to support the workforce of the nation’s smallest carriers.”