Show an ad over header. AMP

Anxious days for airline workers as mass layoffs loom

The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of anxious airline employees, who face mass reductions when the government's current payroll support program expires on Sept. 30.

Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.

  • But lawmakers remain deeply divided over a broader economic relief package, and it's not clear they'll act on any stimulus deal before the November election.

What they're saying: “I never thought I’d say $25 billion was a small number, but compared to $1.5 trillion, it’s a rather small amount of additional assistance that could potentially keep 30,000 to 50,000 workers on the payroll,” Meadows told reporters after the meeting.

  • Help for airlines was not part of a last-ditch, $1.5 trillion stimulus bill proposed earlier this week by a bipartisan group of House members known as the Problem Solvers Caucus.
  • Meadows said the White House has looked at a "number of options" involving executive actions, but "all of them are less than ideal."
  • "There's a few things that we could do but I don't know that it actually solves the problem of curtailing furloughed workers," he said.

The big picture: U.S. airlines were on their way to another strong year when the pandemic hit, halting most air traffic and causing airline revenue to evaporate overnight.

  • Under the initial CARES Act passed by Congress in April, airlines received $25 billion to keep planes flying and workers on the payroll during the crisis.
  • At the same time, airlines have slashed costs and reduced staff through voluntary buyouts and furloughs, while raising debt in public markets and using their frequent flyer programs as collateral.

But the public health crisis has persisted and air travel shows no signs of a recovery.

  • Today, U.S. passenger volumes are still running 65% below last year, according to Airlines for America.
  • “In March, we all hoped to be in a very different place by now," said Sara Nelson, president of the flight attendants' union. "But as the U.S. continues to lead the world in cases and deaths, (global) aviation demand is still down 85% and we are cut off from the rest of the world."

Airlines are bending over backward to lure travelers back, with enhanced cleaning procedures and the elimination of unpopular fees for changing or canceling flights.

  • Mask policies are being strictly enforced — with the threat of a lifetime ban for passengers who fail to comply.
  • And many airlines have extended a promise to keep middle seats open to promote social distancing.
  • Some are adding flights from northern cities to warm weather destinations this winter to entice passengers to travel.

Yes, but: With the peak leisure travel season over and virtually no business travel happening, airlines — and their employees — face a grim deadline in less than two weeks.

  • American Airlines plans to cut 19,000 employees and United warned of more than 16,000 cuts.
  • Delta Air Lines said enough flight attendants, service reps and baggage handlers volunteered to leave that it should be able to avoid involuntary furloughs. Some 2,000 pilots are still at risk, however.

Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Keep reading... Show less

We're all guinea pigs for Tesla's latest self-driving tech

Tesla is beta-testing its latest self-driving technology with a small group of early adopters, a move that alarms experts and makes every road user — including other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists — unwitting subjects in its ongoing safety experiment.

Why it matters: Tesla hailed the limited rollout of its "full self-driving" beta software as a key milestone, but the warnings on the car's touchscreen underscore the risk in using its own customers — rather than trained safety drivers — to validate the technology.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump removes Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

President Trump signed Friday an order to remove Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Trump’s signature paves the way for the U.S. and Sudan to move forward on a larger deal — which will also include a Sudanese announcement on normalizing its relations with Israel.

Keep reading... Show less

Big Ten football is back

The Big Ten football season kicks off tonight after months of a "will they, won't they" narrative.

The state of play: Each team will play eight regular season games, culminating in a ninth, cross-divisional matchup on Dec. 19 (i.e. the Big Ten Championship, but also No. 2 East vs. No. 2 West, etc.).

Keep reading... Show less

Child care crisis is denting the labor market

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

New data from the Pew Research Center shows that parents are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and as far as job losses go, mothers and fathers are faring equally poorly.

Why it matters: Economists have been warning for months that the pandemic could do long-term damage to the economy as people remain unemployed for longer stretches of time.

Keep reading... Show less

"This guy": Trump-Biden personal venom was on full display during final debate

Joe Biden twice referred to President Trump as "this guy," and Trump called the former vice president's family "like a vacuum cleaner" for foreign money.

Why it matters: The personal venom — during Thursday's final presidential debate, in Nashville — was a reminder that even during a more normal debate, nothing this year is normal.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump's hopes of nuclear deal with Putin come down to the wire

A surprise offer from Vladimir Putin has the U.S. and Russia once again circling a potential pre-election nuclear deal.

The big picture: The last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russia, New START, is due to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, two weeks after the next U.S. presidential inauguration. For the first time since the height of the Cold War, the nuclear guardrails could come off.

Keep reading... Show less

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories