With a wider extension of pandemic-related relief stalled in Congress, two U.S. Senators have introduced a stand-alone aid package which would buttress U.S. airlines through March 2021.
Details: Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act
Introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R – ME) and Roger Wicker (R – MS), the s0-called Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act would:
- Extend the airline worker Payroll Support Program (PSP) through March 31, 2021
- Provide $28.8 billion in assistance
- $25.5 billion for passenger air carriers
- $300 million for cargo air carriers
- $3 billion for airline contractors
- Of the $28.8 billion
- $11 billion in new appropriations
- $17.4 billion in funding repurposed from unspent CARES Act PSP funds and loans
- Preserve existing air service to all airports
- Executive payments would remain capped and stock buybacks prohibited through March 2022
Wicker, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said:
“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 to prevent more than 60,000 aviation sector employees from losing their jobs beginning October 1. This legislation would extend the critical Payroll Support Program to provide support for passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and aviation contractors. It would also preserve our nationwide service by requiring airlines to maintain routes as a condition for receiving assistance.
“Maintaining a strong national air transportation system is critical for today’s economy and the continued recovery.”
Collins, Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, added:
“The pandemic has had a devastating toll on the aviation industry, putting many American jobs at risk. The Payroll Support Program that was included in the CARES Act saved over 700,000 of these jobs. Our legislation to extend this lifeline would help frontline employees to continue to receive a paycheck and require airlines to maintain flights to every community they serve.”
You can read the full bill here.
Despite the enormous cost of this bill, it has a decent chance of passing. There appears to be bipartisan support on the Hill and in the White House for this extension and with only 10 days left until thousands of furloughs take effect, I expect a relief package will glide through before the deadline.
image: Delta (Delta has promised not to furlough any flight attendants in 2020, even without further relief form U.S. taxpayers)