Airlines ask Congress for $25 billion more in virus aid

Airlines ask Congress for $25 billion more in virus aid
FILE - In this June 25, 2020, file photo, rows of United Airlines check-in counters at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago are unoccupied amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, United Airlines says it will be dropping an unpopular $200 fee for most people who change a ticket for travel within the United States. (Teresa Crawford/AP)

With over 200,000 Americans now dead from the Coronavirus outbreak, major airlines joined with pilot and flight attendant unions on Tuesday to plead for Congress to approve another package of emergency aid for their industry, warning of massive layoffs if there is no government relief.

'We simply cannot let that happen," said Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines, as airline leaders say they can’t survive without extra emergency relief.

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“This is taking longer and is deeper than most people expected six months ago,” said Scott Kirby, the head of United Airlines.

“We need Congress to do their job,” added Robin Hayes, the CEO of JetBlue.

Last week, airline CEO’s went to the White House to make their plea for help, arguing there is bipartisan support for more relief to ease the economic struggles of their industry in dealing with the Coronavirus.

“It’s not just about the tens thousands of people whose jobs are at risk,” said Kirby of United, “but it’s also about the indirect jobs that all of them support.”

“When the economy recovers - and it will recover - we won’t be able to simply flip a switch and bring highly trained pilots and flight attendants back online overnight,” said Captain Joe DePete, the head of the Airline Pilots Association.

The call for action came as negotiations have been stalled on extra Coronavirus aid money, as the White House and Democrats have been unable to agree on how much relief is needed right now.

“The President has mentioned previously that he wanted to take a good look at airlines and help where he can,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who urged Democrats in the House to approve a bill just for airline relief.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Congress would do, even though there is certainly bipartisan support for extra aid.

But there are also a number of lawmakers in both parties who want to see more aid for Americans who have already lost their jobs, or small businesses which need more help to stay afloat during the outbreak as well.