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COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes $10 Billion for US Airports

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The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act agreed upon by U.S. Congress and the Trump administration this week would provide $10 billion in direct assistance to airports across the country.

However, Travel Weekly reports that the billions in grants could come with a catch as airports would be required to retain at least 90 percent of their workforce through the end of 2020 in exchange for the funds.

A majority of the grants for commercial airports, about $7.4 billion would be distributed proportionally based on the number of passengers each served in 2019 in addition to a formula that weighs each airport’s debt service paid against its unrestricted reserves.

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) applauded the Senate’s passage of the CARES Act on Wednesday, adding that the nation’s airports are facing billions of dollars in losses due to slumping demand and travel restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The entire airport industry is extremely grateful Congress and the Trump administration have stepped up to help offset a portion of the $14 billion and counting that airports will lose this year as a result of the steep, unexpected drop in travel brought about by the coronavirus health pandemic,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke in a statement.

The latest checkpoint data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals a startling decline in air travel since the beginning of March. What’s more, ACI-NA projects passenger traffic at U.S. commercial airports to fall by 73 percent during the period of March to June. Such a dropoff would represent a 53 percent decrease in the first half of 2020 and a 37 percent dip for the full year compared to forecasted 2020 levels.

“Total airport operating revenue is expected to decrease by roughly $12.3 billion for the calendar year,” the group added.

If passed by the House and ultimately signed into law by Trump as expected, the CARES Act would also bail out U.S. airlines with at least $58 billion split between loans and payroll grants.

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Airline Travel Hits a 10-Year Low

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Saying that demand for air travel is declining at a rate quicker than airlines are even trimming capacity, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says traveling by plane has hit a 10-year low.

As the spread of the coronavirus continues to play havoc with everyday life, airlines are feeling the brunt and trimming flight schedules nearly every day. In fact, with the apex of the virus approaching for New York City, United just announced it is dramatically cutting back service in and out of NYC-area airports.

According to the TSA, airport security checkpoints screened fewer than 125,000 people nationwide on Thursday, April 2. That’s less than 5 percent of the 2.4 million people, including both passengers and crew members, who passed through TSA checkpoints on the same day last year.

Overall, the TSA reported that passenger counts are down about 92 percent – and “passenger traffic is falling much faster than they [airlines] can cut capacity.” In March, TSA screened just under half of the passengers it did in March 2019.

Airlines must continue to keep a minimum of flights and move cargo, as per government provisions of the bailout that was part of the stimulus package.

CNN reported that as a result of the drop in demand, about 20 percent of the US commercial aviation fleet – some 1,200 planes – are parked and have not been used in the last seven days, according to data from Airlines for America. Some airlines have decided to retire older aircraft ahead of schedule.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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