Airlines Press Congress For $29 Billion To Make Payroll - Or Else

March 22, 2020
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The shutdowns due to Covid-19 that originated in China have all but crippled the airline industry according to airline officials. Airlines have begun pressing Congress for immediate aid adding that if they do not receive the money soon their employees will suffer.

Airline execs are asking for $29 billion in "worker payroll protection grants", NewsMax reports:

"Senate Republicans have proposed a $58 billion aid package, but opponents are questioning whether the money is better served to address the health crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the $58 billion in aid is in the form of loans the airlines would have to repay, per the report.

"Time is running out," CEOs of Southwest, Delta, Alaska, American, United, JetBlue, Hawaiian, UPS Airlines, and FedEx, and their lobbying group, Airlines for America, wrote to Congress, according to CNBC. "Unless worker payroll protection grants are passed immediately, many of us will be forced to take draconian measures such as furloughs."

U.S. airlines employ 750,000 and are urging employees to take unpaid leave. Delta reported Friday 13,000 of its 91,000 employees have volunteered, but CEO Ed Bastian told staff that more volunteers are needed, per the report."

According to CNBC, U.S. airlines employ close to 750,000 people and airlines are now shrinking their international networks to the smallest in decades, cutting thousands of domestic flights, parking hundreds of jets and urging employees to take unpaid leave, in a bid to save cash as demand crumbles.

CNBC reported that United plans to cut 90% of international service scheduled for April and warned it may have to lay off thousands of workers if Congress doesn’t act fast enough. It said Saturday that it will reinstate some flights between several European cities, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Seoul, South Korea to the U.S. to help displaced passengers.

Airlines worry that a loan-only bailout “will saddle airlines with so much debt that it will lead to bankruptcy and workers (who are right now on the front lines of this virus) will be hurt again,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants explained.

It's a tough predicament for Congress because on one hand they need to put employees first but can we afford a grant? One thing is for sure, Covid-19 is quickly becoming the most expensive pandemic in history.

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