RAA Statement on Air Carrier Worker Assistance Extension Act of 2020

Washington, DC, September 21, 2020. Media contact: media@raa.org

The Regional Airline Association released a statement today applauding Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for introducing the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act of 2020.

Many Americans are suffering as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, including airline workers, where tens of thousands of workers face impending furlough as a key support program helping to keep them on payroll stands to expire on September 30. This worker support program, enacted in March as part of the CARES Act, has averted the economic harm associated with mass airline worker furloughs and allowed airlines to retain a ready status to ensure air service can be maintained now and brought back to strength as the country recovers.

Unfortunately, air travel demand has not returned as quickly as the CARES Act anticipated. Air carriers of all sizes continue to face staggering losses and have warned of unavoidable employee furloughs and air service cuts without an extension. If airlines reduce workers to align with today’s excessively depressed demand, their ability to serve communities tomorrow will be sharply curtailed. At best, it can take months to rehire and retrain aviation workers. At worst, these workers – and the air service they support – are permanently disconnected.

History ratifies the concern that smaller communities are first and hardest hit when air service is retracted. While the present crisis is magnitudes greater than the last economic downturn, a DOT Working Group on Small Community Air Service reported that the Great Recession and subsequent workforce shortages had a disproportionate effect on smaller airports, which saw departures reduced by a factor five times worse than larger airports.   

We believe the strong bipartisan support for extending air carrier worker support, voiced through various mediums including social media and Congressional correspondence, reflects the cascading effect that tens of thousands of airline jobs and associated air service loss at dozens of smaller communities would have on our nation’s economy. In fact, at small airports served exclusively by regional airlines alone, air service drove a conservatively estimated $134 billion in U.S. economic activity, created one million jobs and generated a $36 billion in wages and tax revenues for local communities last year. Unfortunately, air service requirements associated with the Payroll Support Program also expire at the end of the month and small communities face the risk of air service loss just as they begin to rebuild economies that have been devastated by the pandemic.

Regional airlines are dedicated to maintaining air service at communities large and small, and strongly support this proposed extension of support for our workforce. The help provided today to keep workers employed will strengthen small community air service retention tomorrow.

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 41% 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%).