U.S. House COVID-19 aid proposal gives airlines bailout hope, but chances slim

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

“I’m hopeful. I’m not necessarily optimistic,” Chief Executive Nicholas Calio of trade group Airlines for America told “PBS NewsHour” in an interview.

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, although senior Democratic congressional aides said that was 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 the 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 a deep downturn in demand because of the pandemic.

Julie Hedrick, president of the union representing American Airlines’ flight attendants, called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote.

“If we are going to save the airline industry, we have to do it now,” she said.

The House bill would provide $28.3 billion for the aviation sector, including $25 billion for passenger airlines and $3 billion for cargo carriers, under the same terms as the first package in March.

The measure would provide $13.5 billion to airports as well as aid for other sectors, including $120 billion to restaurants.

It would also direct $75 million to ensure scheduled passenger air service to small communities.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney

Source Article

Read more

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 a deep downturn in demand.

The House bill would provide $28.3 billion for the aviation sector, including $25 billion for passenger airlines and $3 billion for cargo carriers, under the same terms as the first package in March.

The measure would provide $13.5 billion to airports as well as aid for other sectors, including $120 billion to restaurants.

It would also direct $75 million to ensure scheduled passenger air service to small communities.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Source Article

Read more

U.S. airlines turn eyes to expected new House coronavirus relief proposal

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. airline unions expressed hope on Thursday that Congress could strike a deal in the coming days that would provide $25 billion to prevent tens of thousands of furloughs on Oct. 1 after the U.S. Treasury chief said he could not act unilaterally to save airline jobs.

A new Democratic-proposed House bill is expected to provide $2.4 trillion in coronavirus relief that would include funds for airlines and restaurants, a congressional aide said, down from $3.4 trillion approved in May. That figure is still far above the $300 billion Senate Republicans backed earlier this month.

While the White House has repeatedly said it would seek executive action to help airlines if Congress failed to pass a deal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Thursday he cannot tap unused coronavirus lending authority to provide cash grants to airlines.

“Is there anything that you have under existing authorities, either the CARES act authorities, or prior law, that could help the airlines avoid these coming layoffs?” Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked Mnuchin.

“Unfortunately there is not,” Mnuchin said. He added the funding from Congress approved in March “literally saved the entire industry.”

Many congressional aides and some airlines are pessimistic about the prospects of a new bailout.

Some lawmakers are pushing for a deal before Oct. 1, when airlines are set to furlough tens of thousands of workers if they do not secure additional payroll support.

International President of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said labor’s pressure on lawmakers was having an impact.

“We are seeing that this is moving us to a full relief bill,” Nelson said over Facebook Live.

An initial $25 billion in payroll assistance under the CARES Act approved in March required no layoffs by airlines through Sept. 30, but with industry continuing to struggle, airlines are pleading with Congress for more money.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican, sought to fast-track legislation for a fresh $25.5 billion in airline bailout funds to avoid layoffs for another six months, but it failed to move forward after some senators raised objections.

American Airlines said it would furlough some 19,000 workers on Oct. 1 without fresh aid and halt service to 15 smaller airports.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are delaying the furlough date for their pilots by a month as they try to strike new agreements and await developments in Washington.

Treasury has a separate $25 billion loan fund for passenger airlines, but not all airlines are tapping it.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski, editing by Timothy Gardner)

Source Article

Read more

White House urges Congress to pass separate aid bill for airlines

By Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland



a plane sitting on the tarmac at an airport: FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington


© Reuters/Joshua Roberts
FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is urging U.S. lawmakers to pass separate bills to aid airlines and other sectors, given failure to reach agreement on a broader package of stimulus funding, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Congress has been deadlocked over another round of economic stimulus aimed at blunting the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed over 200,000 people in the United States.

U.S. airlines, facing a huge drop in demand due to virus-related lockdowns, on Tuesday mounted a last-ditch bid to persuade Congress to approve a new $25 billion bailout to help avert thousands of furloughs set to begin Oct. 1.

Delta Air Lines has agreed to delay a decision on pilot furloughs until Nov. 1, the pilots union said on Tuesday.

Two key Republican senators this week introduced a bill that would authorize $28.8 billion in payroll aid for the airlines. But congressional aides say a stand-alone measure is unlikely to win passage given aid requests from so many other struggling industries.

McEnany said talks about a broader stimulus measure were continuing with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and said the White House’s agreement to accept a measure valued at $1.5 trillion could still lead to some progress.

In the absence of a bigger bill, she urged Pelosi to work on separate legislation to address the needs of airlines, which have warned that they will be forced to carry out mass layoffs unless they receive additional assistance.

“The onus is really on Speaker Pelosi, so we encourage her to send one-off bills, perhaps airline funding, or other elements that we could work through the process to get to the American people,” she told a briefing at the White House.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership, said the House in mid-May passed a comprehensive $3.4 trillion coronavirus-response bill that the administration rejected, and said any bill had to be “a meaningful agreement.”

“We can’t have a cosmetic fake agreement. … That’s what the president wants, a fake agreement,” he told a weekly briefing.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

CEOs of all major U.S. airlines ask White House for $25B in new aid

Sept. 17 (UPI) — The heads of all major U.S. airlines met with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday to ask for more federal aid amid ongoing hardships in the aviation industry.

Attending the meeting with Meadows at the White House were American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, United CEO Scott Kirby, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and Airlines For America President Nicholas Calio.

Airlines worldwide have taken significant losses since the pandemic began early this year and virtually all have made cutbacks in some fashion to offset the lost revenues from declines in passenger traffic.

Meadows told the CEOs Thursday President Donald Trump would support $25 billion in additional financial aid for the industry to save thousands of jobs.

U.S. airlines can begin laying off employees on Oct. 1 when a moratorium on job cuts expires, which was attached to the first round of federal funding in the spring.

“I never thought I’d say $25 billion was a small number, but compared to $1.5 trillion, it’s a rather small amount of additional assistance that could potentially keep 30,000 to 50,000 workers on the payroll,” Meadows said. “If we’re going to get something separate prior to that deadline, it’s going to have to happen next week.”

“We had a very good meeting with the chief [of staff],” Kelly said. “The first CARES Act kept this country out of pandemic and I think the only mistake that was made is that it didn’t go far enough and long enough.”

Without further federal aid, American said last month it will cut 19,000 and United said it will dismiss 16,000.

Sign up for our daily Top News Newsletter

Source Article

Read more

US airlines lobby White House for another round of federal aid

The chiefs of majors US airlines converged on the White House Thursday to advocate for another round of federal support to avert thousands of impending layoffs.

“There’s enormous bipartisan support for an extension of the payroll program which would keep those people employed,” American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker said ahead of a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“The only problem we have is we do not have a vehicle for getting it done,” he added.

American is among the US carriers that have warned of significant job cuts from October 1 without another round of funding.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled strong support for airlines, and a measure to provide additional aid has garnered bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. 

Yet the prospects for aid remain clouded by a fight between Democrats and Republicans on a broader stimulus bill that has dragged on for weeks.

The industry’s outlook remains precarious in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing downturn in airline travel. Total passenger travel in the United States is currently only about one-fourth the level compared with the year-ago period, according to government data.

Airlines received billions in federal support earlier this year as part of the CARES Act, on the condition they do not involuntarily cut staff through the end of September.  

Parker was joined at the White House by the chiefs of United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and lobbying group Airlines for America.

Delta on Thursday said it increased a debt offering to $9 billion from its original $6.5 billion in the latest move by a carrier to raise cash to ride out the downturn. 

The Atlanta-based carrier has said it opted for the financing — which is secured by its frequent flier program — rather than participating in the federal loan program under the CARES Act.

jul-jmb/cs

Source Article

Read more