The US Senate passed a stimulus package on March 6 that will include an additional $14 billion for airlines under the Payroll Support Program (PSP). The support package will prevent airlines from laying off or furloughing additional workers through the fall and keep people employed. Although the complete package still has a few steps to go, it is very likely that the airlines will have an additional $14 billion.
US Senate passes relief bill
Dubbed the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” the US Senate passed a pandemic relief package that includes $14 billion for airlines.
The bill, when enacted, would grant airlines the third round of government support with conditions similar to the previous two rounds of government support.
Airlines will get the money, then they can’t fire, fire or cut employees’ wages until September 30, 2021.
Airlines will also have to refrain from buying back their shares or paying dividends until September 30, 2022. This applies to carriers taking money through the extended PSP. There are also limits on executive compensation.
Allied Pilots Association President Captain Eric Ferguson said the following about the additional help, according to a press release seen by Simple Flying:
“Through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, our airlines will be well positioned to continue global vaccine distribution and drive economic recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. By investing in the future of the airline industry, Congress is making a vital investment in the future of our nation.
The third round of relief for airlines
The first round of airline aid came in March last year when airlines received $25 billion in direct grants under the PSP and were able to access some of the $25 billion allocated under loans and loan guarantees. The first round of support prevented airlines from involuntary layoffs until September 30, 2020.
The the second round was in December, with another $15 billion relief for airlines. These conditions for receiving funds were roughly a carbon copy of the first round restrictions, although these leave restrictions continued until March 31, 2021. The airlines, however, warned that the temporary relief would pass, and the holidays should take place after the date of March 31 past.
Part of the second round of support is still for airlines. Southwest Airlines, only on Friday, received its second installment of the second round of support. Other airlines will soon follow in disbursement announcements.
Now US carriers appear to be gearing up for the third round of support, nearly a year after receiving the first round of support. There are still a few steps to go, but once President Biden signs it, which he most likely will, the money will soon go to the airlines. It comes after an airline that had lobbied the most for additional support, American Airlines, the CEO made comments late last year saying he believed the the second round would be the last needed for the industry.
Will this be the last round of support?
After just about every relief bill pass, airline industry support groups began rallying around the need for another extension. Ahead of the second, US airline CEOs lobbied Congress and the White House for an extension. This third, however, is fortunate to be the last round of support.
The reason for this is that as summer approaches, there is a lot of hope that as vaccinations continue and more vaccines come into people’s arms, people will start to book plane tickets and be ready to travel more.
Already, many airlines are hoping to become profitable in the spring or beyond. Most hope the summer will help them overcome their losses and move into more friendly income territory. If that happens, the airline industry will likely see the end of government assistance. But, as the current crisis clearly shows, anything can happen.
Are you happy the airlines got the third round of support? Do you think airlines should get a fourth? Let us know in the comments!