Washington, DC, April 7, 2020 – This past weekend, the FAA issued updated guidance addressing common issues raised by airport operators regarding restrictions and accommodations in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.
Although the guidance—which updates information previously published on March 28—is not legally binding and cannot serve as a separate basis for enforcement action or other administrative penalties, it does address inquiries from airport operators about their authority to implement restrictions, changes in operations, terminal service consolidations, and other measures in the interest of social distancing or adapting to reduced traffic and passenger volumes.
The document states that unless otherwise approved by the FAA, airports (including all airport structures and operational areas) are expected to remain open, given their critical role in transporting medical personnel and emergency equipment. The FAA further clarifies that any actions to prohibit certain flights may violate Federal law and the airport’s grant assurances, and therefore should first be approved by the airport’s corresponding FAA Airports District Office.
In the document, the FAA also provides guidance regarding passenger screening and quarantining; aircraft parking overflow; closure of restaurants and retail activities; closure of gates or sections of terminals; use of terminals for sheltering of people; rent abatements and minimum annual guarantees; deferral of rent payments and other fees; reductions in hours of operation; sheltering-in-place impacts on airport personnel; recreational aeronautical restrictions; prohibitions on flights from “hotspot” areas; and the use of airport employees for public health screening. The guidance includes references to other federal agencies whose approval will be required for certain types of departures from standard requirements and procedures.
The Wicks Group (TWG) has deep experience assisting airport operators, airport management firms and state and local governments with navigating the evolving airports regulatory landscape. For more information, please contact TWG Managing Director Glenn Wicks by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +1 202-457-7790.