Alexandria, Va. (March 17, 2020) – Helicopter Association International (HAI) has joined a coalition of five other general aviation associations in seeking from the US government financial relief for general aviation businesses. The request stems from the unstable global economic situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a March 17 letter to majority and minority leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives, HAI President and CEO James A. Viola joined the leaders of the coalition in requesting financial assistance for general aviation in the same relief package that is currently being considered to assist America’s airlines. The other associations signing the letter include the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

“Across the country, thousands of small and midsize businesses generate $77 billion in labor income that pays the bills for families and supports communities,” the letter states. “With the unprecedented challenges our nation is confronting, these companies are facing increasing financial uncertainty. Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no certainty as to when economic conditions will improve, which threatens the survival and prospects of thousands of general aviation businesses.”

“The helicopter industry is as deeply affected by the COVID-19 virus as every other sector of the economy,” says Viola. “This financial impact will strike our small businesses the hardest, but no segment of our industry—from operators to manufacturers to suppliers—will remain unaffected. We are simply asking the government to be as responsive to the needs of the thousands of men and women in general aviation as they are for other industries.”

The letter calls for assistance in specific areas. “As you consider a potential relief package for FAR Part 121 air carriers, we request that those same programs be made available for companies conducting operations under FAR Parts 135 and 91 subpart K,” the coalition partners state “Programs that would provide the most support to our industry include medium- to long-term liquidity assistance and relief from air transportation excise taxes. With the majority of business aviation air carriers being private companies, their access to capital is more constrained. In the current environment, private equity markets are not able to provide financing, eliminating an important source of liquidity for the industry.”