May 31, 2023

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COVID-19: US Airports solicit for additional $10b stimulant, operating guidelines

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Todd Hauptli, President, American Association of Airport Executives

The American Association of Airport Executives, AAAE, has appealed to the congress for $10billion stimulant in addition to the initial $10billion earlier granted when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, CARES, Act, came into force.

President, Chief Executive Officer, AAAE, which was established in 1928, Mr Todd Hauptli, made the appeal when he led his team to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where he presented a position paper titled, The State of the Aviation Industry: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

At the hearing, he told the committee that the passenger traffic had reduced more than 95% from the pre-COVID-19 level and as such airports had lost billions of dollars in revenue.

Todd said to cope very well with the health and safety challenge occasioned by the COVID-19, airports management will no doubt have to make new investments to protect the health and safety of passengers, employees and to acquire new equipment as a means to satisfy the new safety protocol.

The AAE President/CEO told the legislators that, “given the significant decline in aviation activity and revenue, and the precipitous drop in PFC collections that help support bond payments, airports will need additional federal assistance at least as large as the initial amount provided in the CARES Act.”

He also urged the legislators to take cognizance of the other service providers within the airport environment which make any modern terminal a complete whole as they were all sharers in the devastation COVID-19 unleashed on airports.

Todd in his delivery argued that “Congress must also provide billions of dollars in financial support for other parts of the aviation ecosystem – general aviation airports, business aviation, concessionaires, and other airport partners that have been significantly impacted by the crisis”

President of the over 7000 strong members of AAAE gave a vivid picture of what air transport stands for by saying, “The aviation industry is an intricate, interconnected, just-in-time enterprise. And while aviation allows for the movement of people and goods across the country and around the planet, it is also the oxygen that fuels our economy, and we need a healthy industry in order to return to a healthy economy.”

AAAE members at a conference

He touched on another very salient issue which borders on standard operating practice which he emphasized needed to be harmonized to help operators know what the service level expected from various airports and the passengers too will be acquainted with what is expected from them when using any airport of their choice.

Hence he demanded in addition to the federal resources, clear and consistent federal guidelines and standards to protect passengers and workers and as travel returns, and to ensure there is not a patchwork of requirements across the aviation system

The CEO of AAAE enthused on the preparation for post-covid-19, “Airports are already working diligently to clean and sanitize their facilities, and they are taking steps to promote a touch less travel experience. Face coverings are becoming more prevalent with airports, airlines, and our federal partners moving to require their use for passengers and employees throughout the travel journey”.

He said further that, “the matter of health screenings is another area requiring a consistent approach. We need clear and consistent processes and procedures throughout the aviation system so that passengers know what to expect regardless of the airline or airport they happen to choose for their travel.”

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