Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (D-VI) and Congressman David Joyce (R-OH) this week introduced legislation, the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act of 2020, to extend the airline worker Payroll Support Program through March 2021:
The aviation industry has been hit hard by the global pandemic. Within days, hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs and flight connections all across the United States were put at risk due to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. Through passage of the CARES Act, Congress moved quickly to keep airline workers on the job with their benefits and off the unemployment lines. As an example, air travel to the Virgin Islands was reduced by weeks into months at the beginning of COVID-19. It did pick up in the summer, but we have had to recently limit leisure travel. In my District tourism accounts for 60 percent of the Virgin Islands’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The Payroll Support Program for aviation industry employees, included in the CARES Act, has been very successful in keeping hundreds of thousands of U.S. aviation workers — including pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents and mechanics — on payroll. However, because this program is set to expire on Oct. 1st and air travel demand remains at historic lows, tens of thousands of job losses are possible within a matter of days,” said Congresswoman Plaskett. “The PSP must be extended for another six months to make sure hardworking men and women in the air transportation sector are not left out in the cold through no fault of their own. We need to make sure these workers, some of whom undergo security clearances and cannot be replaced quickly, remain on payroll once airline demand returns.”
“When Congress passed the CARES Act back in March, we created several programs to protect American workers, including the Payroll Support Program,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “This program has successfully kept hundreds of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, airline customer service agents and aviation mechanics on payroll throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But with air travel remaining at historic lows and the Payroll Support Program expiring on Oct. 1st, immediate action must be taken to prevent tens of thousands of those workers from being laid off. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Plaskett to ensure the hardworking Americans in the aviation industry can keep the lights on and provide for their families as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic.”
“We are grateful for the support of Rep. Plaskett and Rep. Joyce for extending the Payroll Support Program an effort to save the jobs of thousands of U.S. airline employees — flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, gate agents and others. In just seven days, U.S. airlines will be forced to make very difficult business decisions, including announced furloughs and significant reductions in service, without additional federal aid. We are running out of time,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
“These are dire times for the U.S. airline industry. Passenger volumes remain down approximately 70 percent, a third of the U.S. fleet is still idled and U.S. carriers continue to collectively burn $5 billion in cash per month. We are grateful for the strong bipartisan, bicameral support from Congress — including a large group of senators who wrote a letter saying, ‘[W]e must take swift action to extend CARES Act payroll support for passenger air carrier employees to prevent furloughs and provide certainty for workers ahead of Oct. 1, 2020,’ as well as the more than 250 House members who wrote that ‘Without further relief from Congress, mass layoffs among airline industry workers are inevitable — and their magnitude will eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen.’ Congress needs to act now to protect the jobs of tens of thousands of U.S. employees, who continue to provide essential services and are truly the backbone of the U.S. airline industry,” said Calio.
The Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act of 2020 would extend Payroll Support Program for six months, through March 2021, help frontline employees continue to receive their current paychecks, and require airlines to maintain flights to the communities they serve. The House of Representatives remains committed to ensuring that all facets of our transportation network have the resources they need to survive the current economic crisis. I will continue to support an extension of the Payroll Support Program lifeline for air transportation workers in the next economic stimulus package, said Plaskett.