Cheyenne, OK – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) joined two separate letters aimed at maintaining regional airline routes across the United States, including in Oklahoma. The effort comes as Congress faces a September 30, 2020 deadline to extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP). This Program has provided critical funding to support the aviation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and has helped to avoid service suspensions at regional airports across the nation, including Stillwater Regional Airport.
Congressman Lucas joined a bipartisan letter to House and Senate Leadership stating the importance of passing a clean extension of the PSP. The letter also highlights the dire situation of the aviation industry generally and the need to include an extension of the PSP in future COVID-19 relief legislation.
“The Payroll Support Program (PSP), authorized by the CARES Act, has proven to be an extremely successful program by providing payroll support directly to almost one million aviation workers and preventing airlines from conducting layoffs and service suspensions through September 30, 2020,” the letter reads. “As we approach PSP’s expiration on September 30, airlines have started to make tough decisions. If Congress does not act soon, airlines could be forced to continue to suspend or permanently end service to cities across the nation.”
Due to the impending expiration of the PSP on September 30, American Airlines announced that it would suspend service to regional airports, including Stillwater Regional Airport, and enact involuntary staffing reductions beginning in early October.
In response to that announcement, Congressman Lucas, along with Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, sent a letter to American Airlines leadership regarding the service suspension. The letter urges the airline to remain committed to the community of Stillwater, Oklahoma and jobs the airport supports and to consider all options to maintain commercial service to Stillwater, Oklahoma.
American Airlines is the third largest private sector employer in Oklahoma with over 6,000 employees, many of whom are located at the world’s largest commercial aviation maintenance base – American Airlines’ Tech Ops – Tulsa facility.
On the effort to extend PSP and support the aviation industry, Congressman Lucas made the following statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made a long-lasting, negative impact on our nation’s aviation industry. As emergency federal aid expires at the end of the month for our aviation industry, it’s critical Congress and airlines recognize the significant impact these regional routes have in our communities, including providing employment opportunities, promoting tourism, and supporting the local economy. As a proud supporter of our local economies, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Congress and our nation’s airlines find long-term solutions to ensure the sustainability of Oklahoma’s regional airports.”
The letter to American Airlines can be found here.
The letter to Congressional Leadership can be found here.