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article imageAirlines looking at furloughs, layoffs as stimulus talks stall

By Karen Graham     Oct 1, 2020 in Business
The fate of close to 32,000 airline industry employees rests today on whether Congress can make a deal to bail out the nation's airlines. The proposed layoffs come on top of the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs in the industry this summer.
Airlines were barred under the terms of the first economic stimulus package approved by Congress in March from laying workers off until today in exchange for $25 billion payroll protection grants and up to another $25 billion in government loans. However, without federal help, it is possible that over 100,000 airline employees could lose their jobs, according to Forbes.
American Airlines and United Airlines, two of the largest U.S. carriers, told employees in memos Wednesday they would reverse the furloughs if a deal was reached. The furloughs affect about 13 percent of the workforce.
As it stands now, tens of thousands of employees from the two airlines and others, including Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have accepted buyouts or leaves of absence from employees.
The Hill is reporting that both United and American are planning to apply for further loans from the U.S. government, but they say more funding is still needed to prevent thousands of workers in both companies from becoming jobless.
Stimulus bill is still in question
House Democrats postponed a vote Wednesday on a new $2.2 trillion stimulus bill in the hope that a deal could be made as negotiations continue to drag on with the White House, reports USA Today.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting since August. The vote was postponed until Thursday to give Pelosi and White House negotiators more time to discuss a potential bipartisan deal.
What we do know, according to reporting from Forbes today is that Mnuchin offered Pelosi a $1.62 trillion relief proposal during a 90-minute meeting on Wednesday.
“There are a lot of areas where we have an agreement on,” Mnuchin told Fox Business on Wednesday evening. “And, as I said, it’s not just the overall number. It's the distribution of [the money].”
However, even if the House and the administration do come up with a deal that is acceptable to both of them, the bill would still have to pass a Senate vote, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could decide to not bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
The sad truth is that even with additional funding - "it will take the airline industry five or six years to get back to normal” levels of passenger traffic and revenue like the industry saw in 2019, says Hubert Horan, an independent transportation economist with about 40 years of experience in the industry.
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