U.S. airlines have already been bailed out twice and are pining for a third bailout. While negotiations are ongoing, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed both an openness and confirmation of discussion on including a third bailout in a pending Congressional relief bill.
Is A Third Airline Bailout Coming?
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Buttigieg essentially conceded a third bailout is coming to airline workers. Underscoring that federal aid should be used to help airlines avoid “massive” furloughs, he all but promised the question is not if, but when.
Yet timing is key and Buttigieg was less candid about whether the CARES Act would be extended in the current $1.9 trillion relief bill Congress is moving to enact. Asked if it would be a “mistake” not to include an air transport bailout in the new stimulus bill, Buttigieg said:
“Look, that’s part of the conversation going on in the administration and with Congress over a package that has many different elements. But I can tell you, this ask from the aviation sector is being taken very seriously.”
Major airlines and union leaders like Sara Nelson have pushed for billions of dollars in the form of a new bailout, which would spare airlines from furloughing workers or forcing pay cuts.
With vaccinations rolling out and new cases dropping rapidly in the USA, there is arguably light at the end of the tunnel unlike ever before. In that sense, a limited bailout under the right terms is seems far more appropriate than the second bailout.
Nevertheless, it is worthy to remind ourselves that the second bailout awarded the equivalent of $333,333.33 per actual job saved over a six-month period. Obviously, that did not go to the workers…
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that there will be another bailout. With a Democratically-controlled Congress and White House, this is actually a given. Will it be included in the omnibus relief bill which may hit President Biden’s test within days? In a way, I hope it is. If this relief is inevitable, better to stop the demoralizing discussions between labor unions and airlines and just gear up for what will hopefully be a robust summer of travel.
image: Gage Skidmore