This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
A half-dozen business and general aviation groups are urging U.S. Congress to extend Covid-19-prompted aviation excise tax relief for commercial operators to non-commercial operators as well. The organizations wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday, saying, “Across the country, thousands of small and midsize businesses that generate $77 billion in labor income are facing unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and require additional relief.”
They praised the near and mid-term relief provided for air carriers and small businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the suspension of certain federal excise taxes for commercial air transportation until Jan. 1, 2021.
“However, it did not suspend non-commercial aviation fuel taxes,” the organizations wrote. “While this excise tax suspension provides longer-term relief to commercial air carriers, most general aviation operations are non-commercial, and thus not eligible for this tax relief that will help incentivize aviation activity as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Specifically, they are requesting that Congress consider a fourth Covid-19 relief package that would temporarily suspend general aviation fuel taxes—the 21.9-cent-per-gallon tax on jet-A, 19.4-cent-per-gallon aviation gasoline tax, and 14.1-cent-per-gallon surtax on fractional aircraft operations.
“With general aviation operations sharply decreasing by nearly 60 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic, relief from the non-commercial fuel taxes would incentivize operators to preserve jobs and resume flying once we begin to emerge from this crisis,” they said. “This relief would also help small community general aviation airports, which are reporting that aircraft operations and fuel sales are down by more than 50 percent.”
“General aviation is a vital part of our nation’s aviation ecosystem,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “In addition to supporting flights at smaller airports around our country, temporary suspension of federal excise taxes for GA operators [would help] to preserve jobs, thus ensuring that our industry is ready and able to promptly resume flying once this crisis passes.”
They further underscored the importance of general aviation to the economy, saying it supports 12 million jobs and $247 billion in economic impact. The letter was signed by NBAA, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, AOPA, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.
It is part of a multi-pronged effort by the business and general aviation organizations to seek relief from both Capitol Hill and the FAA. At the same time, however, many of the organizations have a growing concern about the solvency of the excise-tax-funded Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which will take a massive hit this year as airline operations have slowed to a trickle and as an unintended consequence of relief provisions in the CARES Act.