A host of U.S. labor unions have written to Congressional leadership calling for a second multi-billion dollar bailout for the nation’s airlines that would offer payroll support and prevent mass-layoffs. The CARES Act, passed earlier this year, doled out $32 billion in grants and loans to U.S. airlines to cover the wages of employees under the condition that workers weren’t involuntarily furloughed or laid off until October 1.
The leaders of the Association of Flight Attendants, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said the funding had kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed through the pandemic and covered healthcare plans. The letter was also signed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transportation Trades Department.
U.S. airlines have slashed schedules as a result of the massive slump in travel demand caused by the Corona crisis. Many carriers are offering unpaid leave and early out’s to reduce their headcounts before the October 1 deadline. Passenger numbers, recorded through the numbers that passed through TSA airport security checkpoints, are currently running at just 20 per cent of last year’s numbers.
“This aid has sustained an industry of national importance, helped our economy, and preserved our communities’ connectivity to the national and global economy,” the letter explained.
But with a spike in Coronavirus cases being witnessed across a number of State’s and the possibility that American’s could be barred from entering Europe, the unions warned the industry continues to face an uncertain future.
“Air travel remains a slight fraction of last year’s levels and demand will remain depressed well into next year,” the letter warns. Several airlines, including United and JetBlue, have already announced the possibility of mass redundancies come October 1.
“Not only will hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs and health insurance, but the industry would lose a large portion of the experienced and credentialed workforce that will be critical to bringing the sector and the broader economy back to prosperity once the COVID-19 crisis is over.”
Congress is set to start considering new stimulus measures in July.
“We urge you to include this simple and necessary provision in the next COVID-19 response package, and appreciate your continued support for airline and airline contractor employees in our country,” the letter continued.
Airlines for America, a Washington-based lobby group that represents many of the biggest airlines in the U.S. has not yet endorsed a second bailout. The group was at the forefront of pushing for the first CARES Act package.
Airline executives are set to meet with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday to discuss a number of issues including mandating temperature checks at the nation’s airports and travel restrictions facing American citizens including a proposed Europe ban.
The White House confirmed the meeting was to go ahead but the list attendees has not been published.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.