MIAMI – US airlines would receive US$17bn for four months of payroll support under a new US$908bn bipartisan Senate COVID-19 relief proposal, a spokeswoman for Senator Mark Warner said Tuesday.

Reuters today reports that the plan also includes US$15bn for transit systems, US$4bn for airports, US$8bn for private buses and $1 billion for passenger railroad Amtrak.

The US$2.2tn CARES Act was approved by US Congress and President Trump in March 2020. Photo: GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Still in the Proposal Stage

The US$45bn in transportation assistance is designed to provide assistance for four months. Congress and President-elect Joe Biden next year can decide to approve more funds beyond March, Senator Joe Manchin said. The proposal does not yet have the support of the White House or Congressional leaders.

American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) in October furloughed more than 32,000 workers after a prior US$25bn payroll assistance program expired. Airlines for months had sought another US$25bn bailout to keep workers on the payroll for another six months.

Senator Mitt Romney said lawmakers had spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seeking input on “what was the right number for airlines.”

US passenger airline traffic remains down by more than 60% and planes are flying on average just half full. Airlines have lost more than US$36bn in 2020. Transit agencies have urged Congress to approve US$32bn in additional assistance. Airports sought another US$10bn after receiving US$10bn in April.

Featured image: American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Departing LAX | Photo: Luca Flores/Airways