US Airlines Will Recall Furloughed Workers In $15 Billion Aid Deal

US Airlines Will Recall Furloughed Workers In $15 Billion Aid Deal

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It looks like 32,000 furloughed airline employees will be back on the payroll for four months, in what can only be described as a very expensive deal.

$900 billion stimulus deal includes money for airlines

A bipartisan $900 billion stimulus deal is expected to be approved by lawmakers in the US shortly. This includes $600 stimulus checks for Americans, and some support for small businesses, but there’s also big support for airlines.

As part of the stimulus deal, US airlines are expected to get $15 billion in support, with similar conditions to the initial CARES Act. The major restriction is that airlines will have to put furloughed workers back on the payroll between December 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

US airlines furloughed a combined 32,000 employees as of October 1, 2020, when the initial CARES Act funding ran out. Those furloughs were almost entirely at American and United, while airlines like Delta and Southwest didn’t have any furloughs.

American furloughed the most workers among US airlines

These payroll costs are through the roof

I find the government’s approach towards providing airline support to be bizarre. First of all, since this is payroll support, is the intent of the $15 billion to prevent job losses? If so:

  • Spending $15 billion to put 32,000 people on the payroll breaks down to $468,750 per furloughed employee, and that’s to get them on the payroll for four months; that’s a salary of over $1.4 million per year
  • Airlines that haven’t furloughed workers are getting payroll support
  • This isn’t accomplishing much, because the pay is partly retroactive, and these employees will likely once again be furloughed come April 1, or more accurately, airlines will be looking for a third round of payroll support in order to “save airline jobs”

At the same time I have compassion. I feel bad for all the airline employees who have lost their jobs. I think they deserve help, and I think the government should do more for them.

But there has to be a middle ground between many Americans getting $600 checks and nothing else, and airlines somehow getting a deal that’s purported to be saving airline jobs, but at the cost of $468,750 per person for four months of payroll.

I guess I just have to come to the realization that the government (regardless of party) is very bad at efficiently spending money. This deal will benefit airline stocks more than anything.

Airlines have been grasping at straws to find reasons to claim they need aid, especially after downsizing their workforces the way they did. The most recent reasoning is the vaccine. Airlines claim they need aid so that they can help with transporting the vaccine, when that logic is quite backwards — transporting the vaccine will be good business for airlines, and it’s something they’ll make money doing.

Even airlines that didn’t furlough workers are getting funding

Bottom line

Airlines are expected to get $15 billion in payroll support as part of the new $900 billion stimulus. This will require airlines to once again put furloughed workers on the payroll for four months, though there are absolutely no guarantees these employees will have jobs come April 1.

With demand definitely not having recovered by then, you can bet that airlines will be looking for more funding in the spring.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I feel bad for all the furloughed airline workers who have likely been out of work and struggling, and am happy they’ll be getting a paycheck. I just wish more than a small percentage of the money actually went to people.

What do you make of this latest round of support for airlines?

Conversations (63)
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  1. Denzel

    As the taxpayers are bearing the financial burden, each airline should produce a business plan, available publicly, which accounts for the ask. The government should then appoint a 3rd party financial oversight committee which has ongoing access to the books and can verify that the appropriate transactions are taking place. If an airline is not willing to do that then, sorry, no dollars.

    I view the airlines as critical infrastructure; however, if they're leveraging public...

    As the taxpayers are bearing the financial burden, each airline should produce a business plan, available publicly, which accounts for the ask. The government should then appoint a 3rd party financial oversight committee which has ongoing access to the books and can verify that the appropriate transactions are taking place. If an airline is not willing to do that then, sorry, no dollars.

    I view the airlines as critical infrastructure; however, if they're leveraging public dollars then they need to be subject to greater scrutiny.

  2. John

    Ben - Thank you. You get it! I, the American tax payer does not want my money going to pay flight attendants to sit at home and do nothing. This money disincentivizes them to look for another career. The industry will be smaller for years. There needs to be natural attrition to other industries. The money should have been given to all travel industries not just Airlines. What industry has the most consumer complaints? Airlines....

    Ben - Thank you. You get it! I, the American tax payer does not want my money going to pay flight attendants to sit at home and do nothing. This money disincentivizes them to look for another career. The industry will be smaller for years. There needs to be natural attrition to other industries. The money should have been given to all travel industries not just Airlines. What industry has the most consumer complaints? Airlines. Yet here WE are bailing them out. Let them fail. Once demand is back another will take their place.

  3. Trolly Dolly

    There are far more than 32,000 airline employees affected by PSP, some of whom have continued to work in the midst of the health crisis among those who don't believe the virus is real or that airlines have a right to manage behavior on their premises with mask requirements or social distancing. And there are thousands of who have taken a voluntary leave of absence to mitigate the massive staffing surplus brought on by plummeting...

    There are far more than 32,000 airline employees affected by PSP, some of whom have continued to work in the midst of the health crisis among those who don't believe the virus is real or that airlines have a right to manage behavior on their premises with mask requirements or social distancing. And there are thousands of who have taken a voluntary leave of absence to mitigate the massive staffing surplus brought on by plummeting travel demand. No, senior employees did not sit on their ass while earning a regular paycheck but have been struggling to meet financial obligations while collecting meager unemployment benefits, hoping for a return to economic recovery. Extension of COVID relief is overdue for the entire nation, not just for privileged few in DC who are unaffected and don't need it

  4. Chase

    Ridiculous, as usual. The Unions negotiated well in advance how all this was going to work when times got tough (reverse seniority furloughs), and that’s where they’re at now. Employees signed up for it when they agreed to be employed at the carriers and belong with the Unions. This is why Ben’s math is correct; the specious argument that the money covers ‘all’ is not reality, because the company and Union already laid out the...

    Ridiculous, as usual. The Unions negotiated well in advance how all this was going to work when times got tough (reverse seniority furloughs), and that’s where they’re at now. Employees signed up for it when they agreed to be employed at the carriers and belong with the Unions. This is why Ben’s math is correct; the specious argument that the money covers ‘all’ is not reality, because the company and Union already laid out the process when costs don’t match revenues if they need to use it.

    There were no ambiguities involved until everyone started sniffing at the public trough in the name of ‘saving’ a few more jobs at insanely high costs for an extra 4 months. It’s a colossal waste of money on an industry that is no stranger to booms and busts. If you don’t like it...get another job, perhaps a more STABLE one if that’s most important to you!

  5. David

    @David

    I agree. Airlines exist in a realm of entitlement/"alternative facts". But, in the error....um, ahh ERA...of C19 isn't that true of a large swath of society? The US Airline industry doesn't "work" when confronting rapid fundamental "change". Deregulation slayed a # of marquee UNIVERSAL BRANDS (i.e. Pan Am). 9/11 sliced legacy brands in half UA/AA/DL...no more CO/NW/HP-US. C19...??? With the exception of deregulation...airlines were dramatically impacted by events that occurred in a finite period...

    @David

    I agree. Airlines exist in a realm of entitlement/"alternative facts". But, in the error....um, ahh ERA...of C19 isn't that true of a large swath of society? The US Airline industry doesn't "work" when confronting rapid fundamental "change". Deregulation slayed a # of marquee UNIVERSAL BRANDS (i.e. Pan Am). 9/11 sliced legacy brands in half UA/AA/DL...no more CO/NW/HP-US. C19...??? With the exception of deregulation...airlines were dramatically impacted by events that occurred in a finite period of time & resulted in seismic change. Deregulation was a could/might/maybe....the economics were unknown & the "change" couldn't be properly forecasted for years/decades.

    The logical question is-----precisely what's different circa Dec 2020 than April 2020? The one absolute is that $25B won't "buy" DEMAND....so, obviously $15B ain't gonna "buy" demand. The Globe is racing towards a positive C19 "tipping point" due to Herd-Immunity (yes, that's been "organically" happening for the past 10+ months) & 2 >90% vaccines...the "tipping point" will occur when #'s crater....the problem is that the hour/date/month of the "tipping point" is unknown.

    Argghh...it's all too confusing & such a colossal failure....when that "tipping point" occurs, I know that I can NEVER go (sans mask) to my favorite restaurant & plan a big family vacation...the restaruant no longer exists. Albeit, C19 has allowed for gained perspective. A 50yr old friend posted a "C19 Rant" upon FB....& he is (was) a logical & considerate person. His premise was that @ 50yr he had about 25 "good yrs" left & thus 1yr = 4% of his life & the C19 risk was, on a % basis, fantastically improbable that he'd contract it & die....so lockdowns/masks/etc were by definition "insanity". He did a lot of math & his #'s appeared logical...he got a lot of thumbs-up & comments, etc. I simply asked----"What happens if you flip your numbers & skew them towards everything that you could possibly need medical attention for---car accident, bike crash, chest pains, sudden slurred speech. You start slurring your words at breakfast, your wife jumps into action & your en-route to the hospital within 5 mins. You arrive at the hospital &....no space, they're turning people away....your wife argues w/ Nurses...and then a Nurse says....you'd better get a move on to Hospital # 2...tick-tock, the "golden hour". Finally, you arrive at Hospital #3 & they immediately inject Activase 4 hours after onset of symptoms. Well, unfortunately you missed the "golden window" & you need speech rehab & physical rehab....and that's all because of an overwhelmed healthcare system due to C19 & your 4% stupidity exercise actually equates to your QOL being 50% of what you imagined for the next 25 yrs". Oddly, I was un-friended....maybe it's not just airlines that exist in a realm of entitlement & "alternative facts"....its also where a lot of our friends reside!

    -David

  6. David

    @David

    I agree that they could not have saved enough to pay their way through the entire COVID 19 pandemic (even Taiwanese airlines, which are financial doing quite well and recording profits, needed government bailout money), but the fact that they saved nothing when times were good, and now expect handouts every few months, is hardly fair to all the other heavily hit industries.

    This is made all the more baffling by how inconsistent the...

    @David

    I agree that they could not have saved enough to pay their way through the entire COVID 19 pandemic (even Taiwanese airlines, which are financial doing quite well and recording profits, needed government bailout money), but the fact that they saved nothing when times were good, and now expect handouts every few months, is hardly fair to all the other heavily hit industries.

    This is made all the more baffling by how inconsistent the government is. Why do airlines alone deserve so much assistance, while other hard hit but equally essential industries get little to nothing? Why is government intervention acceptable in this situation, yet not acceptable when it comes to other equally critical situations (like health care)? Why is it that big companies are the only ones who always get the biggest piece of the pie, when capitalism demands a health competitive environment (which should mean propping up the SMBs)?

    There should be a serious discussion about change, because things are definitely not working in American right now.

  7. Leigh

    @Lucky

    Suggest you talk with an accountant.

    I own an affected business, and it’s not that simple.

    The govt factors the average salary/wage of employees furloughed, then applies a percentage of salary. In no case can an employee actually earn from PPP more than previously paid over the 6 month period that the legislation covers. It’s tricky stuff.

  8. David

    @David

    Different "David"......

    Inoculation via saving for an apocolyptic eventuality "ain't" feasible re airlines. A cyclical event? No US airline in biz as of 2020 existed in 1918.

    Serious commitment to a "rainy day" fund for the year 3020 must be GLOBAL.

    IATA "mission statement": The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports aviation with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency and SUSTAINABILITY.

    Perhaps a $0.05 "tax" on every pax to fund the...

    @David

    Different "David"......

    Inoculation via saving for an apocolyptic eventuality "ain't" feasible re airlines. A cyclical event? No US airline in biz as of 2020 existed in 1918.

    Serious commitment to a "rainy day" fund for the year 3020 must be GLOBAL.

    IATA "mission statement": The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports aviation with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency and SUSTAINABILITY.

    Perhaps a $0.05 "tax" on every pax to fund the "next pandemic" rainy-day fund.

    I agree that the disparity of pay-outs to specific industries is hugely problematic. I live in New England....Maine/New Hampshire/Vermont residents flock to BOS for flights, via teresstrial transport...namely, bus service to Logan.....those companies providing the bus service are SOL x3 times. The cost of C19 will persist for decades & hopefully in 3020 they learn from our mistakes.

    -David

  9. Flyer Don

    Ben, I think the senior pilots at American are not going to be happy flying while their junior pilots get paid for staying home. I’m thinking they are going to offer some kind of short term LOA, with pay, allowing for some of the senior pilots to stay home.

  10. TProphet

    I have booked ~5 awards for clients since the beginning of the pandemic. It wouldn't be unusual for me to turn that volume every day beforehand. The only "help" the federal government has offered is a loan I would have to pay back.

    While it's good that I have other skills and other sources of income to ride this out, folks in other parts of the travel industry aren't so lucky. They're all getting the...

    I have booked ~5 awards for clients since the beginning of the pandemic. It wouldn't be unusual for me to turn that volume every day beforehand. The only "help" the federal government has offered is a loan I would have to pay back.

    While it's good that I have other skills and other sources of income to ride this out, folks in other parts of the travel industry aren't so lucky. They're all getting the shaft while airlines (and only airlines) are getting bailed out. What about hotels, travel agencies, and everyone else whose business has been destroyed by horrible mismanagement of the pandemic? The federal government has zero legitimacy and at this point, they're just shoveling money to campaign donors.

  11. David

    @The Original Donna

    So poor they were recording billion dollar profit quarters, and where Doug Parker infamously bragged about airlines never losing money again. Sounds like a cash strapped operation that had no means to save for a rainy day indeed.

  12. Phillip

    It also requires airlines to resume flying to some routes stopped after the first package expires, and gives the Transportation secretary authority until March 1, 2022 to require flights to small and remote communities that airlines served before the pandemic.

    so its NOT all payroll support./ Should tell the WHOLE story

  13. ma'am

    I think it's interesting.
    FWIW, the whole reason there was such a delay in even getting a COVID relief bill was because of this very thing. Some politicians wanted more relief for EVERYone, but our legislative system allows Mitch McConnell to effectively kill any bill that doesn't have what he's decided is important, which apparently is more bailouts for the airline industry.

    Write your legislators, guys.
    Lobbyist dollars can only go so...

    I think it's interesting.
    FWIW, the whole reason there was such a delay in even getting a COVID relief bill was because of this very thing. Some politicians wanted more relief for EVERYone, but our legislative system allows Mitch McConnell to effectively kill any bill that doesn't have what he's decided is important, which apparently is more bailouts for the airline industry.

    Write your legislators, guys.
    Lobbyist dollars can only go so far in DC--these guys still have to get elected...by US.

  14. The Original Donna

    @David - Seriously? Every big business should squirrel away a couple years worth of operating capital for a once in 100 year pandemic? Airlines are highly leveraged operations and are typically cash poor relying on loans through both good and bad times. Capitalism will go on whether or not the airlines are bailed out of a catastrophe they did not bring on themselves. Furloughed workers will get retroactive pay back to December 1st and be...

    @David - Seriously? Every big business should squirrel away a couple years worth of operating capital for a once in 100 year pandemic? Airlines are highly leveraged operations and are typically cash poor relying on loans through both good and bad times. Capitalism will go on whether or not the airlines are bailed out of a catastrophe they did not bring on themselves. Furloughed workers will get retroactive pay back to December 1st and be rehired and not some fuzzy math windfall worked out by the “economists” here posting today. As I write, EU countries are bailing out rail and other transportation sectors and last time I heard they are capitalists. Not sure what your rant about health care and the poor suggests about any of this, much less my comment.

  15. David

    @The Original Donna

    No upside? How about capitalism? I thought that's the reason why the U.S. doesn't even cover essential health care for its own citizens, because if people didn't have to play health care lottery the U.S. would become a communist country over night.

    But if big airlines are in trouble because they didn't save for a rainy day, then suddenly it's all about handing out money to save airlines?

    Even by the highly...

    @The Original Donna

    No upside? How about capitalism? I thought that's the reason why the U.S. doesn't even cover essential health care for its own citizens, because if people didn't have to play health care lottery the U.S. would become a communist country over night.

    But if big airlines are in trouble because they didn't save for a rainy day, then suddenly it's all about handing out money to save airlines?

    Even by the highly questionable figures @Brian Maloney and @J gave out, that's still $25-46k per employee for 3 MONTHS. How many people even earn that during non-COVID times?

    It's a joke how inconsistently some Americans apply the concept of capitalism; apparently it only applies to the poor.

  16. dan

    The government playing favorites or I wonder if the airline employees were mostly non-union would the bailout happen? Seems that one party is keen on helping states, schools, and Airlines (all have a highly unionized work force) while ignoring the rest of us. Lets not forget the unions are right up there with corporations when it comes to campaign contributions.

  17. Alicia M

    What an irresponsible article. Must be nice to blog and be paid to write something you obviously are not being affected by. These families are getting unemployment which is not even half of their salaries. Btw most of these families would not qualify for assistance like food and medical care. So yes, 3 months worth of regular pay means something than getting unemployment.

  18. The Original Donna

    There are few large industries that have been hit as hard as the airlines maybe none. You can trash the lawmakers but every state and territory has airports and those jobs and air transport are necessary to those economies so I’m not surprised that airlines would get nonpartisan support for their survival. I am in complete solidarity with airline workers and management. Management has taken out big loans and managed the crisis as best they...

    There are few large industries that have been hit as hard as the airlines maybe none. You can trash the lawmakers but every state and territory has airports and those jobs and air transport are necessary to those economies so I’m not surprised that airlines would get nonpartisan support for their survival. I am in complete solidarity with airline workers and management. Management has taken out big loans and managed the crisis as best they can under the constraints. There is no upside to allowing all the large airlines to fail which has potential to happen if the current situation is not remedied while the recovery ramps up.

  19. Rudy

    I welcome the idea if everyone having their job back! However, as pointed out numerous times already what about all the other travel related people not at airlines? Plus what are these thousands of people supposed to do when the flight schedule is still only a fraction of normal? Retro pay? Does that mean they have to give severance pay and unemployment pay back? By the time they get all this sorted out with seniorities...

    I welcome the idea if everyone having their job back! However, as pointed out numerous times already what about all the other travel related people not at airlines? Plus what are these thousands of people supposed to do when the flight schedule is still only a fraction of normal? Retro pay? Does that mean they have to give severance pay and unemployment pay back? By the time they get all this sorted out with seniorities and work locations it will be April, and then what?????? I wouldn’t be suprised if some carriers turn it down.

  20. Josh

    In my opinion there should have been NO BAILOUT for the airline industry as other sectors of the economy where left to suffer! Why are they bringing people back that are just going to sit home and collect a check for 4 months and then go back on the layoff status? These extra workers are currently NOT NEEDED! This stimulus should have only been used to help cover costs for people CURRENTLY on the payroll and not off it!

  21. Dashdriver

    This is ridulous. I have a pilot friend who's wife said OK you get another bail out you can buy that Corvette.WTF!!!..people are losing their jobs,can't buy food and you are going to pay these people that king of money to sit home.My friend said yeah we're recalled but there really not flying so I will get around $8000 a month to sit home and do nothing.What...our politicians are idiots.He even said hard to believe...

    This is ridulous. I have a pilot friend who's wife said OK you get another bail out you can buy that Corvette.WTF!!!..people are losing their jobs,can't buy food and you are going to pay these people that king of money to sit home.My friend said yeah we're recalled but there really not flying so I will get around $8000 a month to sit home and do nothing.What...our politicians are idiots.He even said hard to believe they are doing this again but I'll certainly take it!

  22. Vinnie Derosa

    My best wishes go out to furloughed airline workers, though I think this is a waste of government money. Some subsidy to keep the airlines running is necessary, but protecting jobs temporarily is something I just cannot get behind. So many industries are crumbling and new ways of working will lead to loss of employment. Endless airline bailouts will only benefit those involved in that industry.

    Recovering from the COVID-19 as a nation is...

    My best wishes go out to furloughed airline workers, though I think this is a waste of government money. Some subsidy to keep the airlines running is necessary, but protecting jobs temporarily is something I just cannot get behind. So many industries are crumbling and new ways of working will lead to loss of employment. Endless airline bailouts will only benefit those involved in that industry.

    Recovering from the COVID-19 as a nation is going to be a huge obstacle in the coming year(s) and we have not yet felt the full effects. Bailing out airlines is something that benefits a few. Movie theater chains are shuttering, Broadway has been closed for months, restaurants are closing by the day, and hospitals are going broke trying to pay staff in the face of COVID. These industries impact more Americans than the airlines.

    I hope this is the last round of funding for the airline industry — getting other industries back in business will be the best way to boost the overall economy and provide the greatest chances at getting people flying, which will help airlines recover. Remember though — airlines will need to be smaller overall to remain profitable so some job losses are to be permanent.

  23. N. David G

    Hello!

    Are foreign airline workers that are based in the US eligible?

    For example, Air Canada has ground/ramp/management staff, who are full fledged employees of Air Canada, and their paychecks come from “Air Canada USA” based out of Tampa, Florida. Are those employees who have been furloughed paid throughout this?

  24. Brian Maloney

    You obviously didn't read into this too far and also failed math. The $15B does support payroll for the furloughed employees, but also all other employees. I was not furloughed, but it helps to support my pay during this time of uncertainty and recovery. Once you average out that post across all work groups, furloughed or not, the average pay per employee is much lower. There were 621,200 airline employees in 2019. Averaged out, each...

    You obviously didn't read into this too far and also failed math. The $15B does support payroll for the furloughed employees, but also all other employees. I was not furloughed, but it helps to support my pay during this time of uncertainty and recovery. Once you average out that post across all work groups, furloughed or not, the average pay per employee is much lower. There were 621,200 airline employees in 2019. Averaged out, each employee would receive $24,146.81.

  25. J

    You’re not an economist and it shows. I’d urge you to either stop writing about this, or loop in contributors who know what they’re talking about, especially since this is a politically charged topic.

    32,000 employees furloughed- between American and United alone. That doesn’t include delta, that doesn’t include JetBlue or southwest, doesn’t include any of the small regional and low-cost carriers. My rough estimation is that between early retirements, layoffs, furloughs, and people...

    You’re not an economist and it shows. I’d urge you to either stop writing about this, or loop in contributors who know what they’re talking about, especially since this is a politically charged topic.

    32,000 employees furloughed- between American and United alone. That doesn’t include delta, that doesn’t include JetBlue or southwest, doesn’t include any of the small regional and low-cost carriers. My rough estimation is that between early retirements, layoffs, furloughs, and people simply quitting roughly 100,000 people left the airline industry.

    That leaves roughly 650,000 people employed in air transportation, 100,000 of which I’d see acutely at risk, and another 150,000 peripherally.

    So, in reality I would see this package as attempting to save roughly 325,000 jobs (25k less cause retirements and people switching industries).

    Further, these funds are available for airlines to draw upon- if they meet the stipulated conditions. This means that they don’t just *get* the money outright and they don’t get all of it. Looking at some of the previous bailouts and supports, they rarely get used 100%.

  26. Josh

    Ben,

    It is not $15 billion divided by 32,000. It is $15 billion divided by the ENTIRETY of each airline’s payroll, for 4 months. 32,000 airline workers being recalled and no longer on unemployment is a sure bonus in all this, but the math you are providing is plain wrong and biased. Airline labor unions as well as company management lobbied hard for these provisions, showing the effectiveness of organized labor on Capitol Hill. I...

    Ben,

    It is not $15 billion divided by 32,000. It is $15 billion divided by the ENTIRETY of each airline’s payroll, for 4 months. 32,000 airline workers being recalled and no longer on unemployment is a sure bonus in all this, but the math you are providing is plain wrong and biased. Airline labor unions as well as company management lobbied hard for these provisions, showing the effectiveness of organized labor on Capitol Hill. I feel for other areas of business and the economy that are still being neglected, but this is the plain hard truth. This article is skewing towards a bias that I’m afraid needs looked at.

  27. Rob

    You're doing the math wrong. The payroll support is for ALL employees, not just the furloughed ones.

    1. Ben

      @ Rob -- Right, but a vast majority of the other employees wouldn't be laid off otherwise.

  28. Kiran Simon

    Looks like the author didnt do the math correctly. It is 46,000 per person and NOT 460,000

    1. Ben

      @ Kiran Simon -- 15 billion divided by 32,000 is around $460K. Not sure how you arrived at your math?

  29. Nate

    Let them go broke and pay each person more money.

  30. Al

    The 32,000 is misleading. There are a large number of employees beyond the 32,000 that took voluntary furloughs to help their companies.

    1. Ben

      @ Al -- Those who took voluntary leaves or early retirements won't be covered by this. They won't be back on the payroll with this new bill. Even more unfair, no?

  31. Kris

    Ben, you didn't do nearly enough research on this. The requirement that airlines have to recall furloughed workers as a condition of the EMERGENCY AID (NOT STIMULUS), and is just one important much needed, long overdue stipulation of it. The package is meant to cover the airlines' labor costs so they don't go bust, for reasons must i say out of their control. What is your problem with this? Do you want airlines to go...

    Ben, you didn't do nearly enough research on this. The requirement that airlines have to recall furloughed workers as a condition of the EMERGENCY AID (NOT STIMULUS), and is just one important much needed, long overdue stipulation of it. The package is meant to cover the airlines' labor costs so they don't go bust, for reasons must i say out of their control. What is your problem with this? Do you want airlines to go bust and have even larger ramifications on the economy? What really is your problem? Do you have a problem with struggling furloughed workers who can't find another job because there are none, due to a pandemic that is not in any way their fault?

    You have to come to your senses and think realistically of the big picture. Not just writing a biased article. I understand you wrote that you do care about the furloughed airline workers, but you need to do better. You have a job, am I right? Please support the ones that have been furloughed and are struggling during this time, not make it worse for them, if you're able to. Kindness and solidarity doesn't cost a thing.

    Please update your post. I expect better from you.

    1. Ben

      @ Kris -- Just because we have different opinions doesn't mean I didn't do my research. To be clear, I take no issue with supporting the workers. I'd support the government directly paying furloughed workers their salary. But what I don't support is taxpayers further subsidizing airline payrolls beyond what's necessary, in a way that other industries don't get.

      a) Do you think it's "fair" that Americans will only be getting at most a $600...

      @ Kris -- Just because we have different opinions doesn't mean I didn't do my research. To be clear, I take no issue with supporting the workers. I'd support the government directly paying furloughed workers their salary. But what I don't support is taxpayers further subsidizing airline payrolls beyond what's necessary, in a way that other industries don't get.

      a) Do you think it's "fair" that Americans will only be getting at most a $600 per person check, after not receiving anything since this spring?
      b) What happens to airline workers April 1? This keeps them on the payroll until then, but what happens when this runs out? Airlines furloughed workers the day the previous aid ran out. How long do you want this aid to continue for?

      My point isn't that airlines employees shouldn't be helped. My point is that other industries are getting screwed and are in equally bad situations, and little is being done for them. And this money mostly helps those with airline stocks, rather than actual employees.

  32. Jimmy Mack

    @ Jon

    So you're now comparing Uber drivers with large global airlines? Am I correct?
    Dude, that's a bit of a stretch. I have a bicycle built for two. Can I get some of that money?

    The airline business is exposed to unimaginable risk every day. (See 9/11, pandemics, crashes, oil wars, bad weather, and just your average every day nut job trying to kick open the cockpit door in-flight). No other industry comes...

    @ Jon

    So you're now comparing Uber drivers with large global airlines? Am I correct?
    Dude, that's a bit of a stretch. I have a bicycle built for two. Can I get some of that money?

    The airline business is exposed to unimaginable risk every day. (See 9/11, pandemics, crashes, oil wars, bad weather, and just your average every day nut job trying to kick open the cockpit door in-flight). No other industry comes close. Most travelers and taxpayers are oblivious to that reality until, God forbid, it arrives on their doorstep one day.

    How to help them and other industries affected by Covid is a necessary and urgent discussion. I wish all the best for Uber drivers but let's stay focused on the big picture.

    Keeping it real,
    Jimmy Mack

  33. Flyer Don

    It will be interesting to see how much trouble it will be to keep all their pilots qualified. They will now have way more pilots than they need to operate their reduced flight schedules. It’s kind of like making a football team carry 100 players on their roster. A lot of them will just sit on the bench and do nothing. It’s hard to stay sharp when you don’t get to play.

    1. Ben

      @ Flyer Don -- I would assume that these employees will just be getting pay checks, and won't actually be flying again. At least that's the case for pilots. Simulators are already packed with pilots needing to get rated on different aircraft, so airlines simply don't have the ability to get most furloughed pilots flying again.

  34. Alfred Bowman

    In addition, all $15B won’t be going to employees. Your “analysis” is misleading.

  35. Alfred Bowman

    Your math is off. It’s not $15B for 32,000 employees. A lot more people have had their salaries cut deeply.

    Obviously each employee isn’t getting $400k+

    1. Ben

      @ Alfred Bowman -- Right, each employee is getting a tiny fraction of that $400,000, and the airline gets the rest. That's the problem with this.

  36. Dan

    I think what they are doing is getting prepared for spring when the vaccine is widely available. They are hoping travel picks up overnight once the vaccine is widely used. You have to have everyone in place ready to flip the switch - especially pilots. If everyone is ready to ramp up operation fast, then it will be a gigantic shot in the arm to the economy. It wasn’t just American and United, Southwest said...

    I think what they are doing is getting prepared for spring when the vaccine is widely available. They are hoping travel picks up overnight once the vaccine is widely used. You have to have everyone in place ready to flip the switch - especially pilots. If everyone is ready to ramp up operation fast, then it will be a gigantic shot in the arm to the economy. It wasn’t just American and United, Southwest said they were going to be furloughing employees and Delta was asking more people to take leaves. If travel picks up in the spring, it will be well worth the $15 billion because the economic impact will be way more than $15 billion.

  37. Quentinn Wertz

    Also the reason not pay it directly to tax payers. If the money did not go through our employers than id would risk the capitalist society we live on crumbling. It is very complicated, but in essence if the money went straight to us and we didn't support businesses at all than the businesses would fail and then there would be even less jobs for people. Our society has been built up this way since...

    Also the reason not pay it directly to tax payers. If the money did not go through our employers than id would risk the capitalist society we live on crumbling. It is very complicated, but in essence if the money went straight to us and we didn't support businesses at all than the businesses would fail and then there would be even less jobs for people. Our society has been built up this way since WWI and if we let it fail then we will keep increasing the gap between poor and rich. I think this pandemic really will put our financial structure to the test in the years to come.

    1. Tiffany

      @ Quentinn Wertz -- I can't tell if you're joking? Direct payments to individuals are proven to be vastly more efficient at supporting businesses, decreasing need gaps between poor and rich, and stimulating the economy compared to filtering money through banks and businesses first.

  38. George N Romey

    How about all other Americans that have lost their job? For healthy individuals the most dangerous part of traveling is the drive to and from the airport. But CNN won't be able to get intellectually challenged people to tune into their fear porn if they told the truth.

    The only thing this will do is kick the can down the road and government will be there with another bailout. In the meantime if you...

    How about all other Americans that have lost their job? For healthy individuals the most dangerous part of traveling is the drive to and from the airport. But CNN won't be able to get intellectually challenged people to tune into their fear porn if they told the truth.

    The only thing this will do is kick the can down the road and government will be there with another bailout. In the meantime if you work for a hotel, car rental agency, restaurant, tour company, etc. you're just SOL.

  39. Quentinn Wertz

    To reply to everyone, I think every industry and us, the people, deserve a lot more money. I just think it is unfair that this article is saying that the mo ey is not going to the right area. I believe it is, but there also is an obvious need for money in every industry. In a way we are starting to notice that our government is more concerned with helping big business rather than...

    To reply to everyone, I think every industry and us, the people, deserve a lot more money. I just think it is unfair that this article is saying that the mo ey is not going to the right area. I believe it is, but there also is an obvious need for money in every industry. In a way we are starting to notice that our government is more concerned with helping big business rather than the people. I think this PPP is a better way of directing money to the people rather than bailouts like the airlines received in the past and the auto industry has received.

  40. bob

    I am a UA flight attendant. A couple of months ago UA closed 3 international FA domiciles in NRT,HKG and FRA, those that could not work in the US were terminated on OCT 01. Now with Cares act 2 , I am hearing that UA plans to bring them back even with no base to work out of and pay them 71 hours a month to sit at home. How is sending US tax dollars to foreign nationals outside the US "stimulating" the US economy? This is insane!

  41. David

    For a labor force that is not needed. Yes nice Paul, sure looks like it.

  42. The nice Paul

    Corporate socialism in action.

    With this and the previous packages, is the US now the world’s leading socialist nation?

  43. Jon

    @Jay

    A significant majority Americans don't have $1000 in savings. I'm not sure after the 2008 subprime debacle that we can look at federal debt as an outlier. Not even to get into the whole fact that currency is fiat and therefore so is the debt...

  44. Endre

    Thank you all, dear taxpayers! Even your children’s children will pay back the money Congress has spent on that procrastinating stimulus bill.

  45. Jon

    @Quentinn
    How about hotels?
    How about B&B's?
    How about AirBNBs?
    How about Restaurants?
    How about Uber drivers?
    What about travel agents/directors/services companies?

    Why not just provide that $15bil to all taxpayers directly?

    It's very perplexing why we, the taxpayers, should prefer specific carve-outs for people who lost their jobs depending on the industry. I'll guess that those furloughed also get the $600 checks as well? None of the people...

    @Quentinn
    How about hotels?
    How about B&B's?
    How about AirBNBs?
    How about Restaurants?
    How about Uber drivers?
    What about travel agents/directors/services companies?

    Why not just provide that $15bil to all taxpayers directly?

    It's very perplexing why we, the taxpayers, should prefer specific carve-outs for people who lost their jobs depending on the industry. I'll guess that those furloughed also get the $600 checks as well? None of the people furloughed in this epidemic are at fault for being furloughed, but those in the travel industry who are protected by unions for airlines are getting a preference BY TAXPAYERS over those who work in the - for example - hotels in the same travel industry.

  46. Matt

    The package is to also avoid other airlines from furloughing employees which is hundreds of thousands — Southwest already WARN notices that without this there would be more to come.

  47. Jay

    Ben, you aren't seriously coming to grips at your age that the government doesn't efficiently handle money...are you? How the flip do you think the US has $27 trillion in debt?

  48. JackG

    It just seems so illogical to keep propping these guys up when the demand isn't going to come back in a meaningful way for a long time. Obviously we want to support the average employee, but help them find another job because there's won't exist even when everything "goes back to normal."

  49. ChrisW

    I thought a big part of the government package was to keep the airline in business, not just to help pay furloughed workers. Airlines are burning so much cash this year that they are at risk of ceasing to operate completely which would have far wider ramifications for the entire country beyond just some of their employees losing out on standard pay.

  50. Scudder

    @Quentinn Wertz

    If the government were truly trying to support the “every day worker”, that 15b would be spread much wider than across one industry. The legions of non-airline unemployed are vast, and are getting much less from this than those specific to the airlines—just like in the last package.

  51. Larry

    Does this recall include laid-off management employees?

  52. Quentinn Wertz

    I think the author missed a big part of seeing the whole picture. The payroll money is not just for furloughed employees but also is money for ALL payroll expenses. Each of the vig 4 airlines have around 100,000 employees. When you look at that number the governement is not even paying the salaries, they are subsidizing the labor costs which is the largest expense for airlines. I believe it was needed because as we...

    I think the author missed a big part of seeing the whole picture. The payroll money is not just for furloughed employees but also is money for ALL payroll expenses. Each of the vig 4 airlines have around 100,000 employees. When you look at that number the governement is not even paying the salaries, they are subsidizing the labor costs which is the largest expense for airlines. I believe it was needed because as we continue to experience the pandemic and airlines are loosing more money than expected again, the government needs to help the business not fail. The payroll support is the best way to help the airlines as it puts the money back towards those that are the working class. I find it upsetting that the author of this article is against putting money towards the every day worker.

  53. Joey

    Weren't most of the furloughed employees the junior/younger flight attendants who worked during the spring/summer 2020 while the more senior flight attendants stayed at home but still got paid? If those furloughed are now back on payroll, does that mean they have to work again while their the more senior flight attendants stay at home and get paid?

  54. Sharon

    So do all the airlines receive money or just American and United?

    And what’s with them being paid from Dec 1st??

    Why not make it January or Feb 1 so there’s lesss of a chance of the FA being furloughed again

    1. Ben

      @ Sharon -- All major US airlines are eligible for aid, and not just those that furloughed workers.

  55. FlyingHippo

    I agree and feel horrible for anyone who has been without a job as a result of the pandemic. The travel industry has been severely impacted, but the industry is not just airlines. Why are hotels or entertainment and other industries which support them not seeing the same support? Politicians suck!

Featured Comments Load all 63 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Denzel

As the taxpayers are bearing the financial burden, each airline should produce a business plan, available publicly, which accounts for the ask. The government should then appoint a 3rd party financial oversight committee which has ongoing access to the books and can verify that the appropriate transactions are taking place. If an airline is not willing to do that then, sorry, no dollars. I view the airlines as critical infrastructure; however, if they're leveraging public dollars then they need to be subject to greater scrutiny.

John

Ben - Thank you. You get it! I, the American tax payer does not want my money going to pay flight attendants to sit at home and do nothing. This money disincentivizes them to look for another career. The industry will be smaller for years. There needs to be natural attrition to other industries. The money should have been given to all travel industries not just Airlines. What industry has the most consumer complaints? Airlines. Yet here WE are bailing them out. Let them fail. Once demand is back another will take their place.

Trolly Dolly

There are far more than 32,000 airline employees affected by PSP, some of whom have continued to work in the midst of the health crisis among those who don't believe the virus is real or that airlines have a right to manage behavior on their premises with mask requirements or social distancing. And there are thousands of who have taken a voluntary leave of absence to mitigate the massive staffing surplus brought on by plummeting travel demand. No, senior employees did not sit on their ass while earning a regular paycheck but have been struggling to meet financial obligations while collecting meager unemployment benefits, hoping for a return to economic recovery. Extension of COVID relief is overdue for the entire nation, not just for privileged few in DC who are unaffected and don't need it

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