GBTA U.S. Advocacy Newsletter – February 2024

Welcome to the February edition of the GBTA U.S. Advocacy Newsletter designed to keep you up to date with what’s happening in relation to business travel in the US, and how GBTA is advocating on your behalf. 

GBTA Action in the US

Key Points

➤ US Canada Relations

On February 2, GBTA attended a meeting with Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman and Minister Mary Ng, organized by the Canadian American Business Council, in which GBTA was the sole travel-related participant among Canadian and American companies. GBTA’s Shane Downey presented on GBTA’s role in managing corporate travel, and emphasized the government’s role in minimizing travel friction, highlighted the importance of sustainable travel, and he addressed concerns about rising travel costs due to government controls. The meeting concluded with the Ambassador summarizing three key areas of concern: International Security, Energy Security, and Climate Security, aligning with GBTA’s efforts to foster bilateral relations and advocate for improvements in Canada through strategic engagements with like-minded groups.


Aviation: The Biden-Harris Administration announced several airport terminal grants. The projects will meet growing demand for air travel and makes timely investments in key areas to ensure travellers have a safe, efficient, and enjoyable experience. These awards are expected to serve as an example of the President following through on his commitment to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and creating good-paying jobs.

On February 8th, the Senate Commerce Committee completed its long-delayed FAA reauthorization markup. The markup covered pilot retirement age, long-haul flights out of the Ronald Reagan Washinton National Airport (DCA), unmanned vehicles, access for passengers with disabilities, air traffic controllers, and a variety of other topics. 

On February 6th, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee hearing titled, “The State of American Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration” with FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker. Members expressed support for the House’s bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act. Concerns were raised about the FAA’s readiness to implement the bill, and inquiries were made regarding the Boeing 737 Max 9 incident and measures to prevent future accidents. Discussions covered topics such as air traffic controllers’ staffing, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) requirements, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), passenger safety, pilot retirement age, and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Republicans focused on the FAA’s role in housing migrants in airports and pilot retirement age. Concerns were raised about Boeing’s safety culture, surveillance technology deployment, and noise regulation for helicopters. FAA Administrator Whitaker committed to prioritizing mental health, addressing workforce challenges, and improving the delivery of service registrations for individual aircraft owners.

Actions: GBTA has been pushing for the passage of the FAA Reauthorization bill this year which will continue to address these issues. Prior to the hearing with FAA Administrator, GBTA sent letters to Congressional leadership emphasizing the importance of a long-term FAA Reauthorization and urging its swift passage

The House FAA bill does the following, we are awaiting the text of the Senate language to be made public.

  • Directs the FAA administrator to plan to expand the agency’s capacity to train air traffic controllers 
  • Implements provisions that focus on the concerns of air passengers with disabilities
  • Addresses safety on runways, among other tenets.

Additionally, GBTA supports legislation working its way through Congress to increase tuition assistance for students to enter into aviation programs.

Why it Matters: Business travelers need a safe and efficient air travel system. Congress is taking many steps to improve the National Air Space and infrastructure/staffing. GBTA will continue to push for passage of the FAA Reauthorization bill until it is signed into law.

➤ Sustainability

In December, the Treasury and IRS released long-awaited guidance implementing the GBTA supported tax credit for sustainable aviation fuels. The SAF credit is $1.25 for each gallon of sustainable aviation fuel in a qualified mixture. To qualify for the credit, the sustainable aviation fuel must have a minimum reduction of 50% in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, there is a supplemental credit of one cent for each percent that the reduction exceeds 50%, for a maximum increase of $0.50.

The notice provides additional safe harbors using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and related guidance. The RFS program uses a methodology similar to CORSIA and meets the requirements of the CAA, and the safe harbors in this notice can be used to calculate the emissions reduction percentage and for the corresponding unrelated party certification for the SAF credit.

Finally, this notice announces that the Department of Energy is collaborating with other federal agencies to develop a modified version of the GREET model that would satisfy the statutory requirements for the SAF credit. The agencies developing this modified GREET model currently anticipate its release in early 2024.

Charging Stations: Biden-Harris Administration Announces $623 Million in Grants to Continue Building Out Electric Vehicle Charging Network. Funding will deploy chargers in communities and along major travel corridors, while promoting American jobs and leadership in EV charging. These efforts will also be complemented by DOT’s Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program, which provides $2.5 billion in grant funds to strategically deploy publicly accessible EV charging and alternative fueling infrastructure in communities where people live and work.

The Biden administration said last month it will recognize a methodology favored by the ethanol industry in guidance to companies looking to claim tax credits for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a pivotal win for the politically powerful U.S. corn lobby. But the administration will also update the methodology by March 1, which leaves some uncertainty for corn-based ethanol producers, as it could ultimately tighten requirements around SAF feedstocks.

Why it Matters: Infrastructure improvements to the electrical grid and sustainable forms of travel directly enhance GBTA’s commitment to helping the industry travel cleaner. The grants from the Biden administration will further the business industry access current and future green options. 

GBTA Actions: GBTA has been advocating for the extension of the SAF Blenders Tax Credit and was a Key Issue that 2023 Legislative Summit attendees took to Congress. Further clarity will be advantageous to our efforts.

GBTA and the GBTA Foundation took part in a December Biden Administration event where new commitments to boost access to electric vehicles (EVs), save taxpayer dollars, and tackle the climate crisis, as well as new Federal employee travel guidelines on sustainable transportation use were unveiled. The GBTA Foundation committed to releasing global Sustainable Procurement Criteria by the end of 2024. The GBTA Criteria will help pave the way to standardize responsible practices in the business travel industry and provide corporate travel managers with a harmonized approach for requesting information on suppliers’ sustainability practices.

Passenger Rail: In December, the White House announced $8.2 billion in new funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country, including the first world-class high-speed rail projects in our country’s history. Key selected projects include: building a new high-speed rail system between California and Nevada, which will serve more than 11 million passengers annually; creating a high-speed rail line through California’s Central Valley to ultimately link Los Angeles and San Francisco, supporting travel with speeds up to 220 mph; delivering significant upgrades to frequently-traveled rail corridors in Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia; and upgrading and expanding capacity at Chicago Union Station in Illinois, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs.

Why it Matters: Business travelers need options, a robust rail system offers options beyond taking a flight or driving.

GBTA Actions: This funding was made possible by the GBTA supported Bi-Partisan Infrastructure legislation passed in 2021.

➤ TravelPassport Processing: In December, the U.S. State Department announced that passport processing times have returned to pre-pandemic norms. As of December 18, 2023, passport applications will be processed within 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.

Why it Matters: GBTA is thrilled to see passport processing times return to pre-pandemic norms but is concerned by ongoing delays in visa processing.

GBTA Actions: GBTA is considering legislation to provide the State Department with the authorities and resources necessary to improve wait times, reduce staffing issues, and expand remote interview pilots. 

➤ GBTA Legislative Advisory Council Meeting in Washington, DC

On the 18th of January, GBTA’s Legislative Advisory Council met in Washington, DC to discuss GBTA’s positions and priorities for the year. The Committee explored a series of proposals designed to improve the passenger experiences, enhance sustainability, and support the business travel ecosystem. Additionally, the Council finalized the U.S. Chapter Challenge to boost the visibility of business travel with U.S. elected officials. U.S. Chapter government relations liaisons will be contacted shortly to review the final 2024 Challenge.

The group discussed potential legislation focused on issues such as:

  • Visa delays
  • Aviation Safety and passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act
  • Promoting and facilitating travel within and to the U.S.
  • Expanding the U.S. passenger rail network

GBTA looks forward to addressing these key priority areas with the support of our membership in 2024. 

➤ Upcoming EventsGBTA U.S. Legislative Summit: June 10-12, 2024, Washington, DC