Latest Democratic Relief Bill Would Extend Airline Aid to March

(Bloomberg) — Airline workers facing massive job losses this week would get a six-month reprieve in a House bill that includes more than $28 billion in payroll assistance for the industry.

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Travelers wearing protective face masks ride an escalator on opening day of the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. The $4.1 billion replacement of the old Salt Lake City International Airport, which is slated to be demolished and built over starting by the end of the year, opened its doors for the first time Tuesday to travelers.

The latest pandemic relief package proposed by House lawmakers would give $25 billion to passenger carriers and $3 billion to airline contractors to cover their payrolls through next March. A previous measure to protect those jobs expires on Thursday and airlines have warned they will have to cut tens of thousands of jobs without additional relief.

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The bill would also provide an additional $13.5 billion for airports, which have been hit as hard as airlines by dramatic drops in passengers during the pandemic. At least 25% of the aid must go to airport restaurants and retailers under the House proposal.

While senators from both parties have endorsed the airline payroll money, the bill’s fate is uncertain in that chamber. Airlines have lost about 68% of passengers compared to 2019, according to the latest seven-day average count from the Transportation Security Administration.

Earlier: House Democrats Release New $2.2 Trillion U.S. Stimulus Proposal

“We applaud the congressional leadership for acknowledging the urgency of the situation and are grateful for the continued strong, bipartisan support from Congress,” Nicholas Calio, the president of the trade group Airlines for America, said in a statement on Monday night, “but time is running out to protect the jobs and livelihoods of tens of thousands of U.S. airline employees.”

(Updates with comment from Airlines for America leader, in final paragraph.)

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