airlines

U.S. airlines urge relief as White House signals possible piecemeal aid

By Tracy Rucinski



a airplane that is parked on the tarmac at an airport: FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 jet sits at a gate at Washington's Reagan National airport with U.S. Capitol building in the background in Washington


© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 jet sits at a gate at Washington’s Reagan National airport with U.S. Capitol building in the background in Washington

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. airlines urged top lawmakers on Wednesday to advance a standalone bill that would extend $25 billion in payroll support through March, as the Trump administration signaled possible piecemeal legislation a day after walking away from broad COVID-19 relief talks.



a group of fighter jets fly through the air: FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes parked in Birmingham


© Reuters/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE
FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes parked in Birmingham

“We are disappointed that negotiations between Congress and the Administration over additional COVID-19 relief were suddenly suspended yesterday,” Airlines for America, the main industry trade group, and a dozen airline unions wrote in a letter on Wednesday seen by Reuters.

Loading...

Load Error

“Now, in the absence of an overall COVID-19 relief package, we urge you to advance standalone legislation to extend the PSP (payroll support program),” it said.

The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Earlier, White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters that stimulus talks were off but that negotiators were looking at standalone bills on 10 things that “we agree on.”

The idea of airline relief has so far enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Washington, though last week Representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, failed to win approval of a standalone bipartisan measure for airlines under unanimous consent after some Republicans objected.

Airline shares jumped on Wednesday after sinking suddenly a day earlier on remarks by President Donald Trump that his administration would abandon talks with congressional Democrats over proposals to spend at least $1.6 trillion in additional coronavirus relief funds.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Chizu

U.S. House COVID-19 aid proposal gives airlines some hope for deal this week

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A $2.2 trillion draft bill for coronavirus aid unveiled by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives late Monday gave airlines some hope for a second bailout before tens of thousands of layoffs occur on Thursday, though tough hurdles remained.

FILE PHOTO: American airlines jets made by Embraer and other manufacturers sit at gates at Washington’s Reagan National airport as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to keep airline travel at minimal levels and the U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, in Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/

“We remain hopeful that Congress will act swiftly before the current Payroll Support Program expires on September 30 to preserve the jobs of these flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, gate agents and others…,” CEO Nicholas Calio of trade group Airlines for America said in a statement.

Washington insiders said passage by Thursday, when an initial $25 billion that protected airline jobs through September expires, was unlikely, and the airline group did not detail the congressional action it hoped to see.

An option would be a quick standalone bill for the airlines, though senior Democratic congressional aides said that is also difficult given that many industries are seeking help.

International President of Flight Attendants-CWA Sara Nelson called the proposal, which includes $25 billion for airlines to keep workers on payroll for another six months, “a significant and serious move in negotiations.”

“It makes agreement on a full relief bill very possible in time to save our jobs,” she said.

Between United Airlines UAL.O and American Airlines AAL.O alone, more than 30,000 employees will be furloughed on Thursday, and tens of thousands more at those airlines and others have agreed to voluntary leave as the sector battles