RAA Applauds Introduction of Bicameral, Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Framework

Washington, DC, December 1, 2020. Media contact: media@raa.org

Following this morning’s announcement by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers working to advance COVID-relief legislation, Regional Airline Association (RAA) President and CEO Faye Malarkey Black issued the following statement:

“We applaud the efforts by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have offered a compromise framework that makes significant progress toward meeting the needs of Americans who continue to suffer as the COVID pandemic surges again across the nation and globe.   

We are grateful that today’s package includes a partial extension of the highly successful Payroll Support Program, which supports airline workers by keeping them on payroll, where they are needed to serve hundreds of smaller communities who rely on them for air service. Every dollar of this funding is used exclusively in support of airline non-executive payroll. In turn, small communities benefit because they rely on these workers for their air service.

Today’s regional airline industry drives the economic health of small communities across the nation. Two out of three US airports with scheduled, commercial air service rely on regional airlines exclusively for air service. These airports are often located in smaller communities that lack the passenger traffic needed to support air service by larger airlines and larger aircraft. The pandemic has already exacted sweeping consequences for small community air service, where even small fluctuations in passenger demand can impact market viability. Until recently, air service requirements associated with payroll support greatly mitigated these harms, but air service losses have mounted since their expiration. A review of air service data from November 2020 compared to November 2019 shows a substantial reduction in frequencies and markets, with smaller communities experiencing the most accelerated rate of reduction and exit. Compared with last year, overall frequency is down by 43% and the total number of markets served is down by 20%. This means one in five markets served this time last year is no longer served today. Some communities have experienced a total loss of air service. Others have experienced dramatic deterioration in frequency, destinations and competition. Passengers who were once able to fly nonstop to multiple markets now face fewer destination choices – adding hours, miles and, potentially, significant expense to their journeys. Air service loss causes additional, downstream harm to smaller communities who will need air service to rebuild their economies after the pandemic.

For all of these reasons and more, RAA urges Congress to pass a COVID relief package, including the Payroll Support Program extension, before adjourning for the year. The needs facing Americans are overwhelming today and this compromise package represents a timely and critical lifeline when it is most urgently needed. Additionally, we urge lawmakers to return to the critical work of helping the country combat and recover from the pandemic in the new Congress.

RAA stands ready to support bill managers and Congressional leaders to quickly advance a COVID relief package in support of struggling Americans, including airline workers and the communities they connect.”

About RAA  
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) provides a unified voice of advocacy for North American regional airlines aimed at promoting a safe, reliable and strong regional airline industry. RAA serves as an important support network connecting regional airlines and industry business partners. In the United States, regional airlines operate 40% of scheduled passenger flights and provide the only source of scheduled air service to 66% of the nation’s airports. Regional airlines provide 75% or more of the air service in Alabama (76%), Alaska (88%), Arkansas (83%), Idaho (75%), Iowa (76%), Kansas (78%), Maine (77%), Mississippi (77%), Montana (78%), Nebraska (90%), North Dakota (87%), South Dakota (85%), Vermont (77%), West Virginia (92%), and Wyoming (78%). Regional airlines provide half or more of the air service in Indiana (61%), Kentucky (67%), Michigan (57%), New Hampshire (61%), New Mexico (53%), North Carolina (54%), Ohio (58%), Oklahoma (51%), Oregon (50%), Pennsylvania (53%), Rhode Island (54%), South Carolina (54%), Tennessee (47%), Virginia (58%) and Wisconsin (61%).