The VABA sent this letter to Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner sharing with them the vital importance of including the commercial and general aviation industries in relief packages being considered by Congress. The letter focuses on the importance of regional routes and providing direct assistance to the carriers that operate them. Aviation and aerospace companies provide employment and economic benefits to the Commonwealth. The VABA is working hard to ensure that the vitals industries are supported during this crisis and emerge ready to resume operations when we have successfully addressed the COVID-19 virus.
Please let us know how the VABA can assist you as we navigate through this trying time in our history.
March 23, 2020
The Hon. Mark Warner
United States Senate
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
The Hon. Timothy Kaine
United States Senate
231 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Dear Senator Kaine and Senator Warner:
I write today on behalf of the board and members of the Virginia Aviation Business Association (VABA) to share our grave concerns about the impact the Coronavirus is having on general and commercial aviation in Virginia. The VABA represents the aviation/aerospace business community and is acutely aware of the impact that the virus response is having on the industry. We ask that you encourage and advocate for Congress to include immediate assistance in the economic relief packages to the commercial and general aviation industries that is focused on sustaining air carriers and airports.
Virginia has 66 public use airports, which support nearly 150,000 jobs. Virginia airports generate more than $23 billion in economic activity. Since travel and general movement restrictions began, traffic has been reduced at all airports, from international hubs like Dulles to reginal airports such as Newport News, Lynchburg and Roanoke. Capacity reduction announcements have adversely impacted regional airline routes. As mainlines are forced to reduce capacity, small community routes operated by regional airlines are the first to go. Norfolk and Richmond are already operating at roughly thirty percent of normal capacity. Greater adverse impacts will hit smaller airports.
These routes must be protected which means providing direct assistance to the route operators. Direct assistance is the only meaningful resource to sustain the aviation industry. Any mandate on carriers or airports that increases the cost of operations should be rejected. If Congress’s intent is to prevent economic disaster for the aviation industry, new mandates are dangerous to aviation businesses and their employees.
We are all in uncharted territory. We greatly appreciate the proactive steps you and the Congress are taking to protect Americans from the virus. While ensuring the safety of our fellow citizens remains paramount, protecting jobs and the larger economy is of vital importance. For Virginia, providing relief to the commercial and general aviation community will ensure that these vital sources of economic activity will rebound and be ready to once again provide significant benefit to all Virginians. Once we get to the other side of this crisis, our industry must be able to stand back up quickly. The quick action of the United States Congress is critical for our ability to survive and sustain our workforce during the crisis.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me personally.
Daniel G. “Bud” Oakey
CC: The Honorable Ralph Northam, Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
The Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn, Majority Leader Virginia House of Delegates
The Honorable Todd Gilbert, Minority Leader, Virginia House of Delegates
The Honorable Richard Saslaw. Majority Leader, Senate of Virginia
The Honorable L. Louise Lucas, Senate President Pro tempore
The Honorable Tommy Norment, Minority Leader, Senate of Virginia
The Honorable Shannon Valentine, Virginia Secretary of Transportation
Board of Directors, Virginia Aviation Business Association