WASHINGTON, December 14, 2020 – Statement from A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio:
We applaud the bipartisan group in Congress – namely the efforts of Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Joe Manchin – for reaching agreement on a proposal that provides relief to the hardworking men and women in the U.S. airline industry, and we enthusiastically support the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020.
If passed, this legislation will extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP), which will provide direct payroll support to U.S. airlines and protect the jobs of flight attendants, pilots, gate agents, mechanics and others. We are deeply appreciative of the efforts by those Members who worked to find common ground and forge consensus on a solution to address critical needs.
When the CARES Act passed in March, the legislation included PSP, direct payroll assistance for U.S. airlines, which provided financial relief for six months to keep airline employees on the job and out of our nation’s growing unemployment lines. We were disappointed that – despite significant bipartisan support – Washington was unable to reach an agreement in September to extend this successful program and save tens of thousands of highly skilled, quality jobs in the U.S. airline industry. As a result, thousands of airline workers across the country were furloughed on October 1. U.S. airlines have said they will work to restore those jobs if the PSP is extended, but that becomes increasingly challenging with each passing day.
Throughout the pandemic, U.S. airline employees have seamlessly provided essential services, including transporting medical personnel, equipment and supplies. Our employees are the backbone of the industry and our greatest resource, and carriers have been doing everything possible to protect their jobs.
We appreciate the support that the U.S. government extended in March, and we ask Congress to pass the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 to preserve the jobs of airline employees. We strongly encourage the Senate and the House to approve this legislation swiftly and for the President to sign it into law.
Background: Prior to the pandemic, U.S. airlines were transporting a record 2.5 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo per day. As travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders were implemented, demand for air travel declined sharply with passenger volumes plummeting 96 percent to a level not seen since before the dawn of the jet age. Carriers have been forced to cut flights and currently are burning $180 million in cash every day just to stay in operation. The rapid spread of COVID-19 along with government and business-imposed restrictions on air travel continue to have an unprecedented and debilitating impact on the U.S. airlines, their employees and the traveling and shipping public. As we approach the remainder of the traditional holiday travel season, passenger volumes remain down nearly 70 percent, the pace of new bookings has slowed and carriers are reporting a spike in cancellations.
Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.
A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.