Airways and unions are looking for extra federal assist because the demand for journey remains to be low

Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson joins airline executives, union colleagues and political leaders in calling on Congress to approve an extension of the Payroll Support Program during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on September 22, 2020 to save thousands of jobs in Washington, DC

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Some airline executives and unions are seeking a third round of billions in federal aid as tens of thousands of workers go back on vacation and demand for travel remains depressed amid the Covid pandemic.

The current $ 15 billion bailout expires on April 1, and American Airlines and United Airlines warned last week that they could cut a total of 27,000 jobs. With these funds, the airlines had to call back workers who were on leave in the autumn and keep their current jobs.

“Basic workers have lived with incredible chaos and insecurity. The vacation days are felt by the entire workforce,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the country’s largest flight attendants union, in a written testimony at a house hearing Thursday . “A continuation of [payroll support] I can not wait any longer. “

Congress provided $ 25 billion in aid to keep employees on the payroll at the start of the pandemic last year, which required them to keep their jobs through October 1. The same terms through to March 31. Airlines and unions now want another $ 15 billion to guarantee jobs through September 30th.

“We are fully behind our union leaders’ efforts to fight for an extension and we will use our time and energy to support that effort in any way we can,” said Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines and Robert Isom, president , in an employee statement announcing 13,000 holiday warnings on Wednesday. “Our nation’s leaders know the important role the airline’s staff play in keeping the country moving. They showed their support last year and we will encourage them to do the same again during the pandemic continues around the world. “

Last week United Airlines announced to staff that they “are continuing to monitor demand and advocate for continued government support, and we are all working hard on the day we can bring our employees back on permanent leave”.

The demand for travel is still weak. U.S. airlines lost a record $ 34 billion in 2020 and have warned that if they adhere to new travel restrictions and testing requirements, they can expect a rocky start to 2021.

Since last month, the US has been requiring proof of negative Covid tests in order to board flights to the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now trying “actively” to make Covid tests mandatory for domestic travel, something the industry vehemently rejects.

When asked if the industry should get a third round of federal aid, Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways, told CNBC on Monday that the travel and hospitality sector is one of the hardest hit parts of the economy and needs support.

“I think it is right and natural that specific support should be given here,” said Hayes.

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