US senators voted late on Wednesday to approve a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package for the country, which includes more than $58 billion in aid for the aviation industry.
The industry bailout awards passenger airlines $25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans; and cargo carriers $8 billion divided between grants and loans.
Further aid includes $3 billion in grants for contractors such as caterers and a further $17 billion in loans for companies “critical to maintaining national security” – thought to include Boeing.
President Donald Trump will pass the bill into law after it passes through the House of Representatives, as expected, on Friday.
The Association of Flight Attendants hailed the bailout as one that will put staff first.
AFA president Sara Nelson said, “This is an unprecedented win for frontline aviation workers and a template all workers can build from. The payroll grants we won in this bill will save hundreds of thousands of jobs and will keep working people connected to healthcare many will need during this pandemic.
“This is not a corporate bailout; it’s a rescue package for workers – for flight attendants, gate agents, pilots, mechanics, caterers, airport maintenance and janitorial staff, and everyone who keeps our aviation system moving.”
Meanwhile, Air Line Pilots Association president Captain Joe DePete said, “From the outset, ALPA maintained that any economic relief bill must put workers first to keep aeroplanes flying and help move our economy.
“ALPA pilots applaud the fact that the economic relief package contains provisions to limit furloughs, protect our contracts, and ensure that federal assistance is used to pay airline employees’ salaries and benefits, not executive compensation or corporate stock buybacks.”
The wider bill expands unemployment insurance to cover gig workers and freelancers, and extends additional resources to health-care providers.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the measure was like a “wartime investment”, adding, “A fight has arrived on our shores. We did not seek it. We did not want it. But now, we are going to win it.”