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US airlines remain in “dire straits” and need more government help – industry group

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – The head of a group representing America’s major passenger airlines and a senior union official on Tuesday pleaded with lawmakers for a third round of federal government aid, according to testimony seen by Reuters.

Since March 2020, Congress has granted passenger and freight airlines, airports and contractors nearly $ 90 billion in government assistance and low-cost loans, including two previous rounds of wage subsidies for airlines. US airline passengers totaling $ 40 billion.

The $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan approved by the US House last week includes an additional $ 14 billion for passenger airlines to keep workers on the payroll for six months additional. He is awaiting action from the US Senate.

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“We are still in trouble and in dire straits,” Nick Calio, who heads Airlines for America, a business group representing American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.O) and others. , said during testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee on Transport and Infrastructure. “We were hoping it would be better now.”

He warned that without the new round of aid, tens of thousands of aviation workers “would lose their jobs – or face cuts in wages and benefits – as of April 1”.

In 2020, U.S. airline passenger traffic fell 60 percent to 368 million passengers, the lowest since 1984, and recorded pretax losses of $ 46 billion. They continue to burn “about $ 150 million of money every day,” Calio said.

The current COVID-19 bill also includes $ 8 billion for airports and concessionaires and $ 1 billion for airline contractors.

Joseph DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, told lawmakers that “dismal long-term booking commitments and the near lack of demand for business travel leave some carriers with too little certainty to reactivate and recycle pilots on leave or otherwise inactive “.

Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the transport committee, said he “hoped that by September 30 we will not need another extension” of airline wage assistance.

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Reporting by David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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