© Reuters. US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill
By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski
WASHINGTON / CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi spoke to senior executives of the country's top airlines on Friday afternoon who are calling on Congress to fund an additional $ 25 billion to help tens of thousands of U.S. Approve workers on the payroll after September 30, sources said.
The call with Pelosi, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Peter DeFazio, and the CEOs followed one with work on which the spokesperson offered support for additional help, according to Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International.
"It is clear that this is a priority for the speaker," said Nelson, who was on the phone. "Nobody talks about why we need this. There is complete agreement. The question is what the vehicle is."
Airlines and unions are calling for an additional six months of aid as part of a non-partisan proposal for an additional $ 1.5 trillion in coronavirus aid.
The end of this month marks the expiry of the $ 25 billion payroll that airlines received when the coronavirus first spread around the world.
Without an extension, United Airlines (O 🙂 and American Airlines (O 🙂 will employ around 40,000 people on October 1 alone. American has also announced that it will end service to 15 small communities, which could follow other airlines.
President Donald Trump is also open to stand-alone action for airlines, though congressional assistants say given the requests for help from so many other struggling industries, they are unlikely to get help.
In a letter to Congress on Friday, Scott Kirby (NYSE :), United's CEO, acknowledged the grave impact of the virus on the entire economy, arguing that support now can help lessen the long-term impact and encourage a recovery accelerate.
"The aviation industry is a vital engine of the larger economy," he said in the letter, which was also signed by five union leaders.
Air traffic has declined sharply in the past six months as the coronavirus pandemic killed nearly 196,000 Americans and caused many to avoid airports and planes, seriously hurting airline revenues.
While lobbying in Washington, the airlines are also negotiating with employees to minimize the downsizing that would be possible without additional federal funding.
A Democratic Aid previously said CEOs from United, American, Delta Air Lines (N :), Southwest Airlines (N :), JetBlue Airways (O :), Hawaiian Airlines (O :), Alaska Airlines (N :), and others ) were expected to call Pelosi.
Congress also provided an additional $ 25 billion in government loans to airlines, but many have chosen not to take advantage of this funding source.
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