Airports are now receiving critically needed funds allocated to them through the American Rescue Plan. In the first in a forthcoming series of policy briefs from Airline Accountability, we argue that airports should use relief funds to increase local resiliency against future pandemics and emergencies. And we argue that airports should think twice before using the American Rescue Plan funds primarily to reduce airline costs at their airport. Read the full brief here.

Airlines have already received $54 billion in aid from Congress, much more than the $18 billion allocated to be distributed among all US airports.  When airports do choose to allocate some money to reduce airline costs, they should include mechanisms of accountability.  In Houston, for example, when the City created options for deferred airline lease payments, it did so through a lease amendment known as the “COVID-19 Airline Blanket Amendment.” The City included a provision which required airlines to comply with a recent Mayoral Executive Order that created a living wage for airport workers at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and the William P. Hobby Airport.

Fundamentally, we argue that airports should invest federal rescue resources into making airports safer and healthier for consumers and airport personnel, both now and for future emergencies. Specific proposals might include:

  • Hiring and training additional staff to improve airport cleanliness and full compliance with best practices for limiting the spread of infectious disease. Subject to further FAA guidance, airports should potentially consider providing this training to current front-line service workers at the airport as well.
  • Investing in development projects related to combating the spread of pathogens at the airport such as replacing or upgrading a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, re-configuring the terminal to accommodate increased social distancing or additional health screening locations.

Read the full brief here and we’d love to hear any thoughts for other ways airports are allocating ARP funds. Email us at