US Airlines Seeking Nearly $60 Billion to Sustain Industry During Virus Outbreak

March 16, 2020 by Dan McCue
Lawmakers are making a bipartisan push to improve the safety of commercial flights.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Airlines are asking for close to $60 billion in government assistance to help them deal with industry travails associated with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Airlines for America, the trade association that represents Delta, United, American and Southwest, among other carriers, urged the Trump administration to provide the industry with immediate and long-term assistance in the form of grants, loans and tax relief.

The association is specifically seeking up to $25 billion in grants for passenger carriers to compensate for reduced liquidity and in the medium-term $25 billion in low- or zero-interest loans.

It is also seeking a temporary repeal of the Aviation Excise Tax and a rebate of all federal excise taxes paid by the carriers since the first of the year.

“Carriers have seen a dramatic decline in demand, which is getting worse by the day,” said association president and CEO Nicholas Calio in a written statement.

“Carriers have been forced to remove flights from their schedule and make historic capacity cuts. Cancelations are spiking, and for U.S. carriers those cancelations are outpacing new bookings,” he continued.

“The economic impact on U.S. airlines, their employees, travelers and the shipping public is staggering. This crisis hit a previously robust, healthy industry at lightning speed and we remain concerned that the impacts of this crisis will continue to worsen,” he said.

The aid, if received, would be the industry’s first broad bailout since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The association asks that the Treasury Department immediately begin designing the grant program, and the Federal Reserve to do the same when it comes to the liquidity facility program.

It says it hopes to see the programs launched within the next 15 days.

“This is a today problem, not a tomorrow problem. It requires urgent action,” Calio concluded.

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