Airlines are pushing out throwback promotions in an attempt to get more people on planes.
Companies hope ticket buying will keep them afloat while they wait for the government to pass another stimulus bill.
Airline carriers, like Southwest and American, are doing everything they can to try and sell seats. From buy-one-get-one-free promotions, to seasonal routes.
Still, it may not be enough to prevent thousands of airline workers from being involuntarily furloughed at the end of the month.
American Airlines is entering the fall travel season with half of its usual flight schedule due to low demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the North Texas-based carrier is hoping new season routes will entice wary travelers.
“I do think they're offering passengers routes where they want to go outside. National parks, skiing, things of that nature,” said Paul Hartshorn Jr., who is a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
On Thursday, American announced three new routes for fall, to airports near popular outdoor destinations like Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole.
“I mean, desperate is the right word. They're trying to do everything they can to get people to fill those seats,” SMU economist Mike Davis said.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is running a popular promotion through Friday night: Buy one ticket and get a companion pass for free, with certain restrictions.
“I think if Southwest, American, and the other airlines can provide enough carrots for people to get back on a plane once they'll get back into the habit of traveling,” Davis added.
The promotions and new routes come at a critical time for the airline industry.
At the end of the month, CARES Act funding runs out.
Without an extension, some 70,000 airline workers could be involuntarily furloughed.
“It's horribly painful for the people involved, but we've known this now for six months that the airlines are going to have to scale back,” Davis added.
The hope is airline travel will begin to pick up soon.
“Not only do we have a great cleaning regiment that happens overnight and in between flights, our flight attendants are walking down aisles making sure passengers are wearing their masks,” Hartshorn said. “I would say it's definitely safe to fly as long as you practice the necessary safety measures. Bring hand sanitizer, wear your mask correctly.”
Hartshorn said the APFA spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with several members of Congress trying to get an extension to the Payroll Support Program.
Without it, some 19,000 American Airlines workers will be involuntarily furloughed come October 1.