With furloughs looming, United Airlines has teamed up with its union counterparts to offer one final plea for a second bailout to Congress and the Administration.
United Airlines Offers Final Plea For Second Bailout
With furloughs less than two weeks away, United shared another note it sent to key political figures yesterday.
The letter is addressed to:
- Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
- Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader
- Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader
- Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader
It is signed by:
- Scott Kirby, United CEO
- David Bourne, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Ken Diaz, Association of Flight Attendants
- Todd Insler, Air Line Pilots Association
- Sito Pantoja, International Association of Machinists
- Craig Symons, Professional Airline Flight Control Association
The letter argues for a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program:
“[W]e are joining together to respectfully urge a restart of critical negotiations on Covid-19 legislation to include a clean 6-month extension of the very successful Payroll Support Program (PSP) for airline employees. Without additional funding for the PSP grants, up to 16,000 members of the United family are at risk of involuntary furloughs beginning October 1st. Continuation of this critical program would prevent the furloughs and provide additional time for the industry to reach recovery without losing our colleagues to involuntary furloughs…”
As Live and Let’s Fly has noted, a $25 billion extension would save about 75,000 industry jobs for six months. You do the math. That’s $333,333 per job for only six months.
The note doubles down on the notion that travel will not bounce back until a vaccine is in place:
“In March, we all hoped for a quick recovery from the economic impact of the virus but as we have learned, it is unlikely the aviation industry will see significant return of passengers until a vaccine is widely available to the public and international markets reopen to travel.”
Will six months be enough time or are we merely just kicking the can down the road?
The strongest argument comes in noting the effect of an airline on the larger economy:
“The aviation industry is a critical driver of the larger economy, moving people and goods for business and pleasure; connecting communities of all sizes to the world and supporting good-paying professional careers for hundreds of thousands of Americans. The sooner Congress and the Administration can come together again and reach an agreement, the better United and the entire industry’s chances of keeping employees and returning the economic benefits we provide for the larger economy.”
I’ve often wondered why airlines don’t make this argument more loudly and better try to quantify it.
The final paragraph notes:
“Getting through this crisis will continue to require cooperation and sacrifice from everyone.”
It’s not my intention to kick the hornet’s nest, but such sacrifice is possible if everyone took a payout like at Delta…it just seems many at United who have dealt with past furloughs in their careers are unwilling to give an inch.
You can read the full letter here (.pdf).
I still see some sort of extension as unavoidable as we run up to the next presidential election. As to whether this particular letter will move the needle at all, the answer is likely doubtful.