March 23, 2020
Evaluating CARES Act Assistance to the Airlines
In its current form, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — the Senate’s phase 3 legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic — provides $58 billion in loans and loan guarantees to the aviation industry. AAF’s Director of Fiscal Policy Gordon Gray compares this package and a competing proposal in the House to the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSSA), which Congress passed after the 9/11 attacks. As Congress considers how to assist the airlines, the ATSSSA provides a useful model, Gray notes.
The United States is facing a public health crisis that demands an unprecedented public health response. The United States must take emergency measures to preserve critical infrastructure, and the 2001 ATSSSA model is a valuable case study for policymakers as they consider further measures to address the coronavirus crisis. At present, the Senate is considering legislation that mirrors this approach in part but diverges in the nature of the assistance and the level of oversight. The House of Representatives instead appears to prefer to impose new costly policies on employers at a time of crisis.