The White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines as a deadline loomed.
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That means airlines will begin furloughing employees as early as Thursday.
Airline employees and executives made 11th-hour appeals this week to Congress and the Trump administration to avert furloughs when a federal prohibition on layoffs — a condition of an earlier round of federal aid — expires Thursday.
The passenger airlines and their labor unions are lobbying for taxpayer money to pay workers for six more months, through next March. Their request is tied up in stalled negotiations over a larger pandemic relief measure.
"In a continuing effort to give the federal government every opportunity to act, we have made clear to leadership in the Administration, Congress and among our union partners that we can and will reverse the furlough process if the CARES Act Payroll Support Program is extended in the next few days. We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs," according to a statement from United.
|UAL||UNITED AIRLINES HLDG.||32.60||-1.57||-4.59%|
Industry officials acknowledged that prospects were bleak for action before Thursday’s deadline. They said, however, they were cheered that the House this week included airline payroll help in a $2.2 trillion relief plan that moved closer to Republicans' preference for a lower price tag.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday night that the administration wants to help hotels, airlines and schools. He said he was talking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but hinted that the White House doesn't want to go above about $1.5 trillion — $700 million below the House Democrats' figure.
“I don't think we're going to make significant progress" until Thursday, he said on Fox Business.
In March, Congress approved $25 billion mostly in grants to cover passenger airline payrolls through September and up to another $25 billion in loans that the airlines could use for other purposes. Late Tuesday, the Treasury Department said it completed loans to seven major airlines: American, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier, Hawaiian and SkyWest.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.