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Two prominent Republican senators initiated an effort to legislation on Monday to provide airlines and ground contractors a $28 billion assistance to make up for the supposed layoffs to thousands in October.
Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chairman of the Commerce Committee, together with the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that handles transportation operations and Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, was behind the proposed legislation. The introduced bill came ten days before airlines are allowed to reduce personnel, as the law aims to protect employees set to face job dismissal at the end of the month.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit the country back in March, airlines have been one of the first industries that struggled, recording billions of losses as the travel ban was imposed. As of the moment, airline companies continue to deal with the significant blow as the rebound in travel demand hasn’t been met just yet.
“The CARES Act successfully saved thousands of jobs that support the airline industry and provided these businesses with some breathing space after the drastic drop in air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the market has not turned around as much as we had hoped, and additional relief is needed.”
Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker
Congressional aides said that airlines face an uphill battle with Congress. It diverts its focus to the Supreme Court’s pending vacancy, significantly affecting their attempt to win funding.
Several major U.S. airlines’ chief executives are set to attend Capitol Hill on Tuesday to plead with lawmakers to act and make TV appearances the day after.
“We’re grateful for the continued show of broad, bipartisan support in Congress for our team members and our industry, and we appreciate the willingness of these senators to take action to avoid imminent furloughs and air service cuts when the Payroll Support Program expires next week.”
Statement from American Airlines
Back in March, Congress granted a green light for the first round of coronavirus relief, known as the CARES Act. The legislation is designed to help airlines recover from losses that amounted to billions of dollars. It came with an agreement that carriers won’t downsize their workforces until the end of September when projected that the coronavirus scare has already declined.
Trade group Airlines for America, which comprises representatives from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, expressed their support to the proposed bill.
“These are dire times for the U.S. airline industry. COVID-19 continues to spread and wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, lasting far longer than anyone envisioned. We are running out of time to protect the jobs and livelihoods of these men and women.”
Airlines for America