US Airlines Say They Need $50 Billion To Stay In Business

Airlines for America, the trade group representing US airlines, said it will need $50 billion in grants and loans as well as significant tax relief to survive through the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the outbreak hit the U.S. last month, thousands of flights have been grounded and people are being urged to stop traveling. Additionally, several countries, including the U.S., have banned international travel. Now, according to MSN, Airlines for America is also seeking tax relief that could be worth tens of billions of dollars through 2021 and maybe beyond.

“This is a today problem, not a tomorrow problem. It requires urgent action,” Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America said Monday.

The group represents American, United, Delta, Southwest, and others. The group’s’ proposal is seeking funds within 15 days of approval. Some US carriers have started making moves of their own while waiting for the government. Delta is currently in talks with several banks to borrow $4 billion.

Amtrak, along with several major U.S. airports, is in talks about receiving urgent government assistance. Amtrak and its state rail partners are seeking $1 billion as it slashes trains and said it could see losses of more than $100 million this year.

The industry has an ally in President Trump who said he will try to help but did not get into specifics on how.

“We have to back the airlines – it’s not their fault,” President Trump told reporters Monday. “We’re going to be backstopping the airlines. We’re going to be helping them very much.”

Some politicians want to make sure that airline, airport and transportation employees see some of the bailout money. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said any bailout for the airlines “must have some major strings attached—including new rules to prohibit consumer abuses like unfair change and cancellation fees; protections for front-line workers like flight attendants, pilots, and airport workers.”

Markey also called for requiring “development of long-term strategies and targets to reduce the carbon footprint of the airline industry.”

Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association agreed, saying Monday “any economic relief package must contain strong labor protections for the airline employees who have—or will—suffer financial harm.”

The coronavirus outbreak has already led to layoffs in multiple industries and low-wage workers and minority workers are expected to be hit the hardest.