Stimulus Bill Provides Billions of Relief Dollars for Aviation Industry

May 28, 2020 Industry News

The friendly skies are quieter these days, as the coronavirus crisis has lessened the demand for air travel. While airlines are reporting a new record low in terms of recent air traffic, there is good news on the horizon that shows airlines and travelers are striving to get back on track.

One unanticipated impact that COVID-19 has had on the airline industry is the increased demand for cargo carriers, like Atlas Air. Air freight demand is up, reflecting the important role chartered cargo plays in maintaining the flow of goods in the best of times, and now in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Aviation and management degrees from Vaughn College are proving a valuable resource amidst the pandemic, as several alumni and recent grads are employed by Atlas Air and in other cargo-related positions within the industry. With the proper training students receive at Vaughn, combined with the boost in relief dollars from stimulus relief package, the future is looking bright for students who are seeking a futureproof career in the aviation industry.

Stimulus Relief Package

On March 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (or CARES) Act as an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. The $2 trillion stimulus package includes appropriations to aid the airline industry, transit agencies and related infrastructure. What does this all mean? Here is how it breaks down.


Of the $339.9 billion in appropriations included in the CARES Act, the Engineering News Record estimates more than $40 billion could be eligible for construction. It will be up to the states, localities and other aid recipients, however, to determine the distribution between operations and construction in certain cases. As it stands, the stimulus bill allocates $25 billion for “transit infrastructure grants,” but it states funds can be used for transit agencies’ “operating expenses related to the response to a coronavirus public health emergency.” Agencies could be seeing an additional benefit as these funds may help with lost revenue from sharp declines in ridership.

Airlines and The Aviation Industry

The CARES Act sets aside $61 billion in funding and loans for the airline and aviation industry. Of that allocation, the airlines will see $29 billion—with $25 billion going for passenger carriers and $4 billion for cargo airlines. Aviation contractors will see support of $3 billion.


Airports across the country are earmarked to share in $10 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, which will provide them much needed relief amidst the coronavirus pandemic. In the past, AIP was used to fund runway work and other infrastructure. To provide additional relief, the CARES Act expands the $10 billion for “any purpose for which airport revenues may lawfully be used”—including non-infrastructure purposes. According to American Association of Airport Executives President and CEO, Todd Hauptli, although some of the $10 billion may be used to finance construction, the funds “will help keep people at work, avoid defaults on bonds, allow critical projects to continue and assist with recovery efforts that will be massive over time.”

Closer to home

Parts of the $8 billion rebuilding project at LaGuardia Airport were halted in March when dozens of construction workers contracted the coronavirus, thus sending an unknown number of workers into quarantine after potential exposure. Governor Andrew Cuomo said despite the worker shortage, it was vital that construction at LaGuardia Airport continue.

You should know that the future of air travel and the aviation industry is bright and will bounce back quickly, especially with the additional funding and grants coming in. By the time a four-year degree program is completed, the industry is predicted to be back to where it was pre-pandemic. You can learn more about Vaughn College, its programs, student life, financial aid and more by viewing the recorded presentations from our Virtual Open House.