U.S. Aviation Benefits From New COVID Relief Package


The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package called the American Rescue Plan was signed by President Biden today and will set up far-reaching economic aid that will directly impact commercial aviation. Some $65 billion of the program is intended to shore up industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, including aviation, tourism and restaurants, with aviation sectors slated to get $15 billion of that.

In a memo to American Airlines employees, CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said that announced furloughs would not happen, at least for now. “For our 13,000 colleagues who received worker adjustment and retraining notification notices last month, those are happily canceled … you can tear them up!,” they said in a statement. United Airlines’ Scott Kirby said, “By extending PSP, our teams will be able to remain current in their training and ready to match expected future demand. Thousands of frontline workers will now receive paychecks and healthcare through September, which is especially critical while vaccine distribution continues to ramp up.”’

Yesterday, GAMA’s Pete Bunce said, “Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the general aviation industry. This program will help strengthen our fragile supply chain, keep highly skilled workers in the industry, as well as support some of the smaller companies that need assistance to maintain operations. While our industry continues to face headwinds, it will be the resilience and dedication of our workforce that gets us beyond the pandemic.”

After Congress had passed the bill but before Biden had signed it, Airlines for America CEO Nicholas E. Calio said, “On behalf of our member carriers, Airlines for America (A4A) applauds the U.S. Congress for passing the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which includes provisions to extend the highly successful Payroll Support Program (PSP) that has been vital to preserving the jobs of the U.S. airline industry’s hardworking employees—flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, gate agents and others.” 

The immediate beneficiaries are the airlines, who are said to be burning $5 to $6 billion a month to maintain even reduced staffing levels as air travel continues to slowly return. Data for the first week in March shows commercial aviation still down 40 percent compared to the same period in 2020, which was before the pandemic began to seriously affect air travel. The airlines are not expected to return to profitability until 2022 and international air travel is expected to lag behind domestic travel in any kind of recovery through 2021.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. …and not a single vote in support of this from those “all our way or nothing” insurrectionists still worshipping at that CPAC golden statue of High Lord Drumpf.

    • Of all the political hack sites on the web that have comment sections, you choose to bring your partisan hackery to a website that caterers to Aviation. Well played, jerk.

  2. This is not an aviation comment, but the oil & gas industry has been hit equally hard if not worse than the industries receiving aid, but not a dollar of help or sympathy the these companies. Many of the smaller are going bankrupt while the larger hang on. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs and moved on to other industries.

    The oil prices are recovering but with the bankruptcies I fear there will be a supply shortage as much of the infrastructure to ramp up is gone.

  3. Oh, haven’t you heard? By the time this is all over, we will all be driving electric cars so we won’t need oil any more. 😉

    The oil companies are regarded as a dirty industry set on fouling the land and destroying the air. Never mind the fact that they employ more people than all the airlines combined. And, without them, none of the airlines would be going anywhere.

  4. “…and not a single vote in support of this from those “all our way or nothing” insurrectionists still worshipping at that CPAC golden statue of High Lord Drumpf.”

    Do you suppose it MIGHT have something to do with the merits (and demerits) of the bill itself? It is so laden with “Pork” that it has become one of the biggest spending bills EVER. It contains huge expenditures for things totally unrelated to Covid–bridges from New York to Canada–National Endowment for the Arts–National Public Radio–all of the dead-end projects that can never pass Congress on their own merits (or lack thereof)–so they are attached to a POPULAR bill.

    High time for Congress to quit hiding these expenditures in popular bills to “bring home the bacon” (popularly known as “Pork”) for their own pet projects. Give bills consideration on their own merits–NOT riding the coat tails of a popular bill.

    • Like last year’s $2.3 trillion tax relief bill which mostly benefitted the top 1% and will never trickle down. Did you squawk that one?

    • I agree with John K. The biggest reason that some of your disliked items were included is that the do help. For some reason the ‘R’s’ don’t think the arts or PBS are worthy of support. There are many children who get their best early education from PBS, especially those from poorer areas where the parents cannot afford ‘pre-school’. Not everyone agrees with the expenditures either. Even thought I spent 30 years in the airlines, I am not a fan of giving them money when they were buying back their shares & did not prepare for the downturn (there is always a downturn around the corner in that business). Too much compensation for corporation execs is based on stock performance or increased earnings & not enough prepared for prudent preparation for the slowing of business—they could just furlough employees to cut expenses or threaten bankruptcy to get union contracts shredded. (I saw plenty of that!) for what it is worth–I also donated our first stimulus to a food bank.

    • Jim, respectfully, as both a professional musician and aviator, I am very glad to see support for the arts and public radio in this bill. The music industry, indeed all the performing arts, have been decimated by the pandemic. Perhaps it’s pork to you, but for my professional colleagues and I it’s a lifeline enabling us to survive through this time.

  5. Is this bill any different than any other bill? Absolutely not. Virtually all bills have all sorts of “additions” to help ensure local votes for another return to Congress. This is the modus operandi of so-called legislation Congress…which is made up almost equally of both red and blue “legislators” ( I use that term very loosely). And has been standard fare for decades.

    There is NO curbing Congresses spending. The taxpayer is held hostage by what has become in functionality an oligarchy with a large percentage sorely needing legitimate Covid relief for daily expenditures, monthly mortgage/rent payments, and a job. Congress has not yet disbursed a significant percentage of the Cares Act monies. A lot of this new Covid relief is being funded in part by the Cares Act. It remains to be seen how the Feds will disburse this new round of so-called stimulus. The Feds have no operational way to efficiently, therefore effectively disburse this money to 50 different state unemployment computer systems. There is little to no federal/state integration because our congressional leaders insisted the monies go to states unemployment systems for disbursement outside of the stimulus checks. So, the average citizen has to be super tenacious to keep oneself engaged within whatever state system that will be disbursing the funds, waiting weeks and months for workable software so the feds can transfer the money to the state level. And then wait more time as the states hand out the money through an ever growing logistical backlog. Each state has its own computer unemployment systems and attendant issues.

    Its great to get the stimulus check, relatively quickly, if you are in the IRS system which allows for direct deposit. But anything beyond that direct deposit takes weeks or months to access after a protracted amount of time and energy is expended daily to wait your turn through hundreds of thousands of back logged citizens who are doing likewise. Many of the states have kept money from the Cares Act and still have not fully funded promised relief to both local businesses and qualified citizen’s.

    So, I have no use for Congress one whit as they have continued unabated to add more and more personal pork, lying by omission about what is contained in these bills, while giving off political sound bites to an equally corrupt mainstream press, how they desperately want to help Americans. Yeah, and the check is in the mail, I love you, too.

    When people’s backs are against the financial wall, there is no choice but take what is doled out, knowing that these spending bills, no matter what they are, have all sorts of crap buried within the litany of pages that most “legislators” have never read themselves. However, they know which pages contain their personal pork projects.

    Lobbyists run our country. Money runs the lobbyist. We are merely the catechumen, the citizenry cattle, who gets a few crumbs back of our taxpayer money AFTER getting funding all of the pork first and foremost. The airlines who will get their promised life support will be the one’s most actively lobbying our “legislators”. Anything less than full boogie lobbying of said “legislators” will result in smaller aviation companies not having the money nor the time to do what is required by congressional leadership whose hands are always out, will be left empty handed, stuck in the backlog of hundreds of thousands of other people and businesses, as they attempt to navigate through a Federal and State system that cannot and will not effectively communicate with each other.

    Covid has been devastating to the world and particularly the US. It has now killed almost now 600,000 Americans and turned our economy upside down. It has also been an unexpected catalyst, an accelerant revealing the true character of our Congress. They run the purse strings. They run the government. The Presidency is the window dressing with very little influence of daily “legislation”. The President can ask or postulate about their individual accomplishments or the lack thereof. But the mess we are in today lies at the feet of Congress. This lack of leadership character has been festering and growing decade after decade. Covid has given us a glimpse of how bad, bad can get. And this festering mess has infected both parties quite equally. $1.9 trillion dollars? Hell, just keep the presses running…the status quo. These numbers are now meaningless to the average American citizen.

    • If more would support the changes in the method political campaigns are funded we could diminish the power of lobbyists & corporate & dark money in campaigns. Public finding with no other funding allowed would do wonders for political campaigns. We could return to the “By the people& for the people” government instead of “who’s got the most money for me” government.