A group of 16 Republican senators approved giving more money to airlines to avoid layoffs just before the US election in November, which gave a boost to lobbying efforts by airlines and their unions .
In a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders, tGOP senators did not specify an amount on Wednesday, but a proposal from several airline unions would give the hard-hit aviation industry $ 32 billion, including $ 25 billion for passenger airlines.
Late Wednesday, US President Donald Trump also expressed support when asked about the senators’ letter.
“We don’t want to lose our airlines, so if they’re looking at this, whether they’re Republican or Democrats, I would definitely be in favor,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
Airlines shares rose. American Airlines, considered the most financially distressed of the major airlines, gained the most, closing 9.5%.
Senators have said they are backing relief because air travel remains depressed and several airlines have warned of possible job cuts on October 1, when an airline layoff ban expires. They said Congress should also consider increased aid for airport dealers and aircraft manufacturers.
In March, airlines got $ 32 billion to cover wage costs for six months in exchange for not laying off workers.
Nine of the 16 GOP senators who signed the letter are due for re-election in November and could be hurt by the headlines on thousands of airline vacations the month before voters go to the polls on November 3.
Some of those senators face tough re-election races, including Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado. Others represent states with large numbers of airline workers, such as John Cornyn of Texas.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky made no allowance for airline workers in his $ 1 trillion proposal for additional relief from the virus. A spokesperson for McConnell did not comment.
A majority in the House, including more than two dozen Republicans, approved the spending. The Treasury Department has so far declined to comment on the Trump administration’s position.
No US lawmaker has spoken out against the airlines provision, although aides have said some oppose helping workers in an industry when there are millions of other workers who have already lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Air travel is not expected to return to previous levels for several years – not until 2024, according to a trade group for global airlines – which has led some industry observers to say airlines should be allowed to cut back to meet demand. lower demand, even if that means fewer jobs. .
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, responded by saying the airline’s supply was the most successful employment program in the $ 2.2 trillion virus relief measure approved in March. . The bill maintained air service to cities that had flights before the pandemic.