Like many other businesses, airshows across the nation suffered greatly because of COVID-forced cancellations, eliminating the tremendous economic support they provide local communities.
The March 17 letter signed by AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and Helicopter Association International reminded leaders of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the House Committee on Small Business that the more than 300 events held each year attract more than 10 million visitors, provide a combined economic boost of nearly $900 million to cities and towns, and account for more than 20,000 jobs through hundreds of small businesses.
The letter stated that these events “provide the larger general aviation community with an opportunity to familiarize the public with general aviation and local airports” and “provide outreach to those who might otherwise have no exposure or understanding of the value and importance of aviation in their communities.”
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that was signed into law on December 27 included the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, which established the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. Congress provided $15 billion for the SVOG program to help entities hardest hit by the pandemic. The letter asks that airshows be considered by the Small Business Administration in the same manner as other entertainment and live venue events.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, included an additional $1.25 billion in funding for the SVOG program. The law also allows those entities eligible for an SVOG to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The original law prohibited organizations from receiving both; entities are now able to obtain both, provided the amount of the SVOG is reduced by the amount of PPP funds approved.
The SBA is expected begin accepting applications in early April for the SVOG program.
“Airshows have inspired, thrilled, and educated the millions of fans who have attended these amazing events,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Much like every part of society, these events were grounded in 2020. As there are positive signs about the nation rebounding, I am heartened that the general aviation community is coming together to support this important segment of our industry. I personally can’t wait to see these amazing performers again.”