COVID-19 AIRPORT GUIDANCE
New FAA Guidance- April 4, 2020
The FAA on Saturday evening issued two new coronavirus-related documents for airports, including updated guidance for airport sponsors on responding to requests from tenants to defer or abate rents, fees, or other payments owed. (FAA: Information for Airport Sponsors Considering COVID-19 Restrictions or Accommodations)
The agency also released a FAQ document to help airports learn more about how the agency intends to distribute $10 billion that Congress approved as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27. (FAA: CARES Act Airport Grants – Frequently Asked Questions)
You can find both of those FAA documents and much more on a new webpage for AAAE members that compiles relevant guidance and other items related to implementation of the CARES Act as well as international and state travel restrictions.
This evening the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided airport sponsors with guidance on responding to requests from tenants to defer or waive rents, landing fees, or other payments owed. FAA also provided guidance for navigating many other unique scenarios that airports are confronting due to the growing pandemic, such as closure of terminals and retail activities, restricting airport activity, and screening or quarantining passengers from other locations within the United States.
FAA's first document, "Information for Airport Sponsors Considering COVID-19 Restrictions or Accommodations," and second document, "Considerations for State, Local, and Territorial COVID-19 Restrictions That Impact Air Transportation," are attached.
Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!
On Thursday March 26th, Governor Abbott signed Executive Order GA-11, directing persons arriving by aircraft from certain specific geographic areas to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is stationed at commercial airports in major metropolitan areas to enforce GA-11. All other airports should provide the appropriate documentation to air travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the City of New Orleans.
Those documents include:
Before leaving the airport, travelers from the designated areas should complete the Form for Arrivals from Areas Designed for Mandatory Self-Quarantine. Upon completion, airport staff should send the form to DPS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Airport operators should contact local authorities or the Department of Public Safety anytime they have health or safety concerns involving passengers or crew members.
If you have further questions, please contact DPS at (800) 525-5555.
The link below from the Department of Homeland Security addresses what areas of the economy are considered an essential business. The Transportation Systems Sector, which aviation related businesses are included, is one of those Sectors. It has been interpreted that Essential businesses are exempt from local government orders (e.g., Shelter in Place, Stay at Home, etc.).
The Transportation Systems Sector consists of seven key subsectors, or modes, of which Aviation is defined as:
The following was provided by Megan McLellan of TxDOT Aviation and it provides valuable insight to our industries current situation.
I wanted to check in and see how you’re doing with our (hopefully temporary) new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. In this challenging time, staying in communication and knowing our resources should better help us to navigate the unknown we’re heading into. There’s no doubt that airports of all sizes will be significantly impacted, along with the commercial airports and airline industry.
I don’t have any specific guidance to share from TxDOT at this time, but to let you know what we’re up to, per the Governor we are on mandatory teleworking until at least April 3rd and our travel is restricted through that same time. Our TxDOT Aviation Conference has been postponed to a later time this year – Becky Vick with our office has been in talks with the Moody Gardens hotel for dates available after summer. We are still operational and conducting business as normal. If you have any upcoming project meetings though, you’ll see that those meetings will most likely be held remotely by TxDOT and the consultant. We’ve been told that some of the consultant firms have also restricted travel over the next few weeks.
That being said, we want to hear from you! We’re hearing about reduced traffic nationwide, which means less revenue that can be earned by airports and airport businesses. Are you seeing that your airport has been impacted or will be impacted soon? I’m hearing that airports with more staffing are operating with skeleton crews or working in separate areas of the airport to uphold social distancing measures. There’s also economic concerns for FBO’s (including airport-owned FBO’s), commercial tenants, and flight schools.
Some local governments are having to make tough calls about what to keep open to the public and what is best to stay closed in the community. We’d also like to hear from you if you’re receiving any pressure our guidance to close the airport terminal or facilities. It’s the airport and Airport Sponsor’s decision about staffing at the airport and we hope you’re accommodating the flying public as best as you can.
As a reminder, the airport being open or closed is in relation to the runway and airfield. The airfield shouldn’t close due to health concerns. Also, please keep up with NOTAMs if there are any changes to your fuel availability.
The FAA has provided guidance stating that federally funded airports are required to have FAA permission to close the airport due to a non-aeronautical activity, such as public health concerns. The FAA has relayed to our office that airports are required to stay open for the purpose of providing access. If staff have to go home, the airport is still available for the public and is still considered as open. If any Texas airport has any questions, please contact TxDOT Aviation. Attached is the full Compliance Guidance Letter and is also provided below:
FAA Releases Guidance on Proposals to Restrict or Close Airport Activity Due to Public Health Concerns
The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Office of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis (ACO-1) has circulated guidance, Compliance Guidance Letter (CGL) 2020-01, to its Regional and Airports District Office managers and compliance personnel, advising them on the handling of proposals from airports to temporarily close or restrict all or parts of a federally obligated airport due to public health concerns such as the coronavirus. FAA's CGL states the following:
"In general, the FAA does not permit temporary closure or restriction of federally obligated airports for nonaeronautical purposes. An airport sponsor must obtain FAA approval to allow airport closure for a non-aeronautical purpose. (Grant Assurance 19 and 49 U.S.C. § 47107(a)(8)). Grant Assurance 19 further requires that airport sponsors will not cause or permit any activity or action on the airport that would interfere with its use for airport purposes. This guidance includes all airport structures and operational areas."
Additional Information and Resources
The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) is a professional organization for airports and airport managers around the country. I am on the GA Committee for AAAE and have been tuned in to hear anything I can about guidance and happenings for airports. As you may know, the airlines and Boeing are requesting an immediate relief funding package from the White House and Congress. AAAE is working diligently to ensure that airports are also included in any funding relief. Additionally, the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) has joined in to express to Congress the needs of airports at this time. I have attached the letters from AAAE and NASAO if you’d like more information.
It's unknown at this time if or when a federal funding relief or reimbursement program will be in place for airports, but it was suggested for airports to keep track of expenses and staffing overtime just in case.
Lastly, we’re fortunate to have so many airports to use as a networking and best practices resource in our state. We also have great representation within airport organizations and listed below are Airport Managers that have agreed to be contacted if you have any questions or would like further guidance or advice:
Sharlette Wright, Cleburne Airport Manager
Joel Jenkinson, Addison Airport Director
VP of the AAAE GA Committee
Lenny Llerena, Victoria Regional Airport Director
President of South Central Chapter AAAE
For additional resources: https://texasairportscouncil.org/Web-Resources
Thank you again for all that you do! I’m sending this e-mail to as many airports that I have contact information for, please feel free to share. As a reminder, please contact your Planner if your airport is experiencing any problems or restrictions due to COVID-19. Please let me know if I can help with anything.
Take care and let’s keep in touch!
Megan McLellan, C.M.