AOPA has taken a central role in calling on the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate to protect the aviation industry from unintended consequences of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (commonly referred to as the CARES Act).
While the CARES Act was designed to support the economy through the COVID-19 crisis, it may also lead to insolvency of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), which funds our national air transportation system.
At the beginning of fiscal year 2020, the AATF was financially healthy with a cash balance of approximately $17.9 billion, while its uncommitted balance (the amount that has not yet been obligated) was about $6 billion. Under the CARES Act, according to preliminary and unofficial estimates by the FAA, the cash balance will fall to $7.8 billion while the uncommitted balance will be negative $3.5 billion by the end of fiscal year 2020. Unless Congress takes action to address the finances of the AATF, the fund may run out of cash in 2021.
The AATF funds more than 99 percent of the FAA’s fiscal year 2020 budget, supports the FAA’s operation of the nation’s ATC system, and provides all funding for the Airport Improvement Program to include important safety construction projects at our nation’s airports.
The AATF is funded almost entirely by tax revenues from users of and operators in the aviation system, including general aviation. However, significantly reduced demand and the tax holiday on passenger tickets, cargo, and fuel under the CARES Act will put the AATF in danger of insolvency.
The letter stated, “Given the seriousness of the situation, we appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working with Congress to develop a solution to ensure the continued solvency of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.”