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Relief Bill is Good News for America’s 250K Aviation Maintenance Workers

To keep tabs on all of ARSA’s work related to the current pandemic, visit

On March 27, Congress officially responded to the aviation maintenance industry’s pleas for economic assistance in the face of pandemic-related air travel disruptions. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act passed this week by the Senate and House directs specific relief to repair stations and their employees.

Since President Trump’s national emergency declaration on March 13, ARSA has been working to provide resources to help its members weather the storm. Central to that effort is a campaign to urge Congress to provide short-term help to the maintenance industry. Association members from around the country weighed in with their representatives and senators in support of ARSA’s call for grants and loans to help repair stations meet payroll. That unprecedented grassroots campaign has yielded significant results.

The relief legislation contains several provisions aimed at providing aircraft maintainers with liquidity to avoid layoffs. Sec. 4003(b)(1) of the bill sets aside $25 billion for loans to repair stations, airlines and ticket agents. Aviation maintenance companies that are located at airports and perform work for air carriers should also be able to benefit from a $3 billion financial assistance program for airline contractors and subcontractors (Secs. 4111 to 4120).

The aviation provisions aside, the legislation provides broad relief for individuals in the form of direct payments and forgivable loans to help small businesses and companies with 500 or fewer employees meet payroll and keep businesses operating (Sec. 1102). The overwhelming majority of repair stations are small and medium-size entities that will be able to tap into those resources.

The effort on Capitol Hill to provide maintenance industry relief was led by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), “While ARSA is grateful to all the members of Congress and staffers who’ve worked tirelessly in recent weeks to craft the bill, Senators Inhofe and Duckworth deserve special recognition,” ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A. Klein said. “Thanks to them, there are 250,000 men and women working in the maintenance sector – including 12,000 employees in Oklahoma and 7,000 in Illinois – who can rest a little bit easier knowing that financial help to keep their companies afloat is on the way.”

The association encourages aviation community stakeholders to stay tuned for updates and resources on its “anti-viral” webpage at

Previous updates on ARSA-led relief efforts...

3/26/20 - Relief Bill Includes Repair Stations

March 26, 2020

On March 25, House, Senate and White House negotiators reached a deal on a massive coronavirus relief package. In addition to resources for healthcare workers and others on the front lines, the legislation contains provisions aimed at businesses and specific resources for the aviation maintenance community.

Repair station inclusion no accident; ARSA members answered the call to action in unprecedented numbers, reaching House and Senate offices to echo ARSA’s request for assistance (see below) and direct lobbying. The message was simple: In the wake of widespread aviation disruptions, repair stations need help to maintain liquidity and pay highly trained and dedicated workers.

It’s clear elected representatives heard that message loud and clear.

Sec. 4003(b)(3) of the draft bill provides $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees to repair stations, passenger airlines and ticket agents. Cargo airlines would have access to an additional $4 billion in loans.

Secs. 4111 to 4120 provide grants for airlines ($25 billion), cargo airlines ($4 billion) and airline contractors working at airports and their subcontractors ($3 billion) to pay wages, salaries and benefits. Some repair stations may be able to benefit from the latter pot of money, given that the definition of contractor includes those that perform “functions on the property of an airport that are directly related to the air transportation of persons, property, or mail” and their subcontractors. While maintenance is not on the list of enumerated contractor functions (baggage handling, security, ticketing, aircraft cleaning, etc.), the fact that the words “including but not limited to” appear before the list means that it’s not intended to be exhaustive. ARSA will be working with allies on the Hill and those in the administration to resolve any ambiguity.

The grant money comes with certain strings; among other things, it can only be used to pay wages, salaries and benefits. Recipients must also refrain for furloughing workers, engaging in stock buybacks or paying dividends. There are also limitations on executive compensation.

The aviation provisions aside, the legislation provides broad relief for individuals in the form of direct payments and assistance for companies of all sizes, including forgivable loans equal to ten weeks payroll (up to $10 million) for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The overwhelming majority of repair stations are small and medium-size entities that will be able to tap into those resources. ARSA is still digging through the hundreds of pages of legislation to identify the provisions most important for the maintenance industry.

This analysis is based on a draft of the relief bill obtained by ARSA. Changes will be made before the Senate votes, so don’t take the news to the bank (literally or figuratively!). However, as of 3:00 p.m. on March 25, things have moved in the right direction. ARSA’s “anti-viral” webpage will bring further updates and analysis.

The maintenance industry helped itself get to this point; it establishes the power of grassroots and growing visibility of the maintenance industry on Capitol Hill. When the fat lady sings, if you were one of the many who reached out to Capitol Hill, please circle back with lawmakers’ offices to thank them for their support so the momentum is not lost.

To download a copy of the bill published by POLITICO, click here.

Note: The original version of this post noted that the forgivable loans equal to ten weeks payroll would be available to business with fewer than 500 employees per location. It is not clear from the text of the bill that the employee account applies to specific locations as opposed to total corporate size, with few exceptions, so that language has been updated.

3/17/20 - ARSA Proposes $11 billion+ MRO Industry Relief Package

March 17, 2020

In the wake of severe aviation industry impacts due to the coronavirus, ARSA has proposed a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry relief package to Congress and the president designed to ensure repair stations can continue to pay employees and to encourage airlines to continue to contract for maintenance during the downturn.

In a March 17, 2020 letter to President Trump and House and Senate leaders distributed to all congressional offices, ARSA said it is hearing from members concerned about cashflow in light of maintenance work being canceled and customers potentially unable to pay bills. The maintenance industry – which includes FAA-certificated repair stations and parts manufacturers and distributors – employs more than 250,000 workers nationwide and generates approximately $50 billion in direct annual economic activity.

As lawmakers huddle to craft economywide and industry specific relief legislation, ARSA is proposing a 50 percent tax credit for airline contract maintenance work performed at U.S. repair stations between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. The association said that historically, tax incentives such as the highly successful depreciation bonus created after 9/11 have stimulated economic activity by encouraging businesses to shift future purchasing into the present. The temporary tax credit ARSA is proposing would encourage airlines to continue to contract for maintenance during the anticipated downturn.

ARSA is also urging the administration and Congress to provide repair stations with $11 billion in relief split between grants ($8 billion) and loans or loan guarantees ($3 billion). These amounts would help ensure repair stations are able to maintain their present workforce for the next six months, which will be essential to having the necessary capacity to perform maintenance when commercial aviation activity returns to normal and preventing large industry job losses that would put additional pressure on existing government benefit programs. (e.g., unemployment insurance). 

ARSA also pointed out that the maintenance industry has long been suffering from a severe and well-documented technician shortage and maintaining a highly trained workforce is critical to ensuring the long-term stability of the entire U.S. aviation sector.

“The simple fact is that we don’t know how long the coronavirus disruptions will last and what the impacts will be,” ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A. Klein said. “Congress needs to act swiftly to limit damage to the aviation maintenance industry, which has both a huge impact on the economy and which is so essential to the safe operation of aircraft.”

To read ARSA’s full letter, click here.

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