Help for the suffering airline industry may not be coming anytime soon as tens of thousands of furloughed airline workers wait for another round of coronavirus aid.
Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected President Donald Trump’s proposal to split up the aid package, getting help for airlines and small businesses and stimulus checks out first.
Pelosi is refusing to compromise unless House Democrats have a guarantee that other Americans suffering from the pandemic are helped too.
It’s been a lot of back and forth in D.C. this week over the multi-billion dollar aid package, a package airline worker unions say - politics aside - they desperately need right now.
“Millions of their families on the verge of eviction, and the president says I’ll do these three things. No it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen,” Pelosi said.
She’s refusing to back down from comprehensive coronavirus relief for millions of Americans.
After pushing to delay talks until after the election, President Trump walked it back and said he’d sign a bill that provided stimulus checks and aid for the airline industry and small businesses.
But Pelosi said there’s no deal without guaranteed help for unemployment, schools, and others.
“We’re happy to review what that standalone bill would look like as part of a bigger bill, if there is a bigger bill, but there is no standalone bill,” Pelosi said.
FILE - Travelers make their way through ticketing and TSA inspection as State of Pennsylvania remains under restrictions for work and travel at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
All of this, a blow to airline unions anxiously waiting for an extension to the CARES Act payroll support that ran out October 1.
“When that was negotiated, we thought six months would be more than enough to get this virus, this pandemic under control. Clearly that did not happen, for whatever reason and here we are today,” said Paul Hartshorn Jr., with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Here we are looking at more than 75,000 aviation workers, plus workers related to the aviation industry, that will be without their pay but most importantly without their health care.”
American and United airlines furloughed 3,200 workers just last week.
While the CEO of Southwest Airlines is urging union workers to take pay cuts if more federal aid isn’t passed in order to avoid furloughs and layoffs and stay afloat.
“We still believe there are other voluntary ways and other voluntary programs and methods where we can meet those goals and we really need this act, this payroll support program, to go through so we can start making those decisions because we’re really waiting on the answers from our government officials,” said Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556.
As coronavirus relief aid talks stall in Washington, tens of thousands of airline workers continue to wait in limbo for any news that help is coming.
“It sure seems like partisan politics have taken over and that’s a real shame, that’s a real shame for 19,000 American Airlines workers, it’s a real shame for 75,000 aviation workers plus across the country,” Hartshorn said.
According to data from TSA checkpoints, so far this month, airline travelers are averaging just over 760,000 a day. During this same time period last year, the average was over 2 million.