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Lawmakers Support New Payroll Protection for Airlines

A majority of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for a six-month extension of a $32 billion payroll aid program that they say is vital to keeping hundreds of thousands of aviation workers employed through March 31, 2021.

In a letter released Monday, lawmakers wrote, “Without an extension of the (payroll support program) before then, hundreds of thousands of airline workers will be fired or furloughed on October 1.”  Led by House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, the letter was signed by 223 House members, including 195 Democrats and 28 Republicans.

If action is not taken, the lawmakers said the layoffs “will eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen.”

Back in March, Congress awarded $25 billion in payroll assistance to U.S. passenger airlines, along with $4 billion for cargo carriers and $3 billion for airport contractors.  Most of the bailout funds do not have to be paid back, but the payroll protection program expires September 30.

When the program was approved in March, U.S. airlines hoped for a recovery in demand by October. As the virus has accelerated, however, airline executives warn that demand that had shown signs of recovering was stalling again, threatening jobs.  In the last couple of weeks, American Airlines and United Airlines have notified their employees that more than 60,000 frontline workers are at risk of losing their jobs October 1.