Biden, Buttigieg urged not to hamstring private jets amid reports of domestic COVID travel restrictions

By Doug Gollan, February 11, 2021

The National Air Transportation Association wrote the President and Transportation Secretary, “We cannot afford to shackle an industry that not only empowers countless businesses across the country and offers essential services”

In a letter to President Joseph Biden and Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg, National Air Transportation Association CEO Timothy Obitts warned that if domestic travel restrictions are extended to private aviation, it will hamstring the economy.

McClatchy Newspapers yesterday reported the government is currently considering restrictions on domestic air travel to combat COVID-19 spread.

Possible options could include quarantines or pre-flight testing requirements.

Many in the industry were surprised when recent mask regulations were extended to Part 135 flights, which includes jet card and charter flights.

Obitts outlines the economic impact of the industry, writing, “General aviation contributes more than $247 billion in economic output annually and supports 1.2 million jobs across the nation. In addition, general aviation businesses and the local airports they support serve as vital lifelines for communities across the country — particularly in rural
regions — by providing critical infrastructure for essential businesses and their employees, aiding in business and job growth, as well as supporting law enforcement, medical care, disaster relief, and firefighting. Most recently, Part 135 operators began transporting COVID-19 vaccines to remote communities, a practice that has enormous potential to expedite the equitable distribution of these life-saving doses.”

He continued, “Travel on private or charter aircraft offers further risk protection: minimal touch points, streamlined service without the inevitable crowds of large airports, and fellow passengers typically comprised of known entities — colleagues or family members included in common quarantine bubbles. The controlled environment of on-demand air travel arguably entails less risk than a trip to the grocery store, evidenced by the fact that there are no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission on a Part 135 air charter flight.”

There are fewer than 20 touch points when flying privately versus over 700 with the airlines.

Obitts also pointed to industry cleaning processes and heightened health safety protocols. He noted as airlines have cut service, business aviation has been filling the gaps. He concluded, “We cannot afford to shackle an industry that not only empowers countless businesses across the country and offers essential services, but also safeguards the health and safety of its passengers and personnel.”

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