Delta CEO, other airline execs push for bailout

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines.(File photo: Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Airline CEOs are promising not to furlough employees through August if $29 billion in payroll grants are approved

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and other airline CEOs are pushing for a federal airline bailout to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, promising not to furlough employees through August if they get $29 billion in payroll grants.

"If worker payroll protection grants are enacted, equaling at least $29 billion, participating passenger and cargo air carriers will not furlough employees or conduct reductions in force through August 31, 2020," says a letter signed by CEOs of Delta, American, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, Hawaiian, Atlas, FedEx, UPS and lobbying group Airlines for America to congressional leaders

Reports this week indicate that the White House and Senate Republicans are offering up to $50 billion in loans to airlines but not grants.

Some oppose an airline bailout, and consumer groups are pushing for consumer protections as a condition to the aid.

The U.S. Senate is convening Saturday to work on a coronavirus stimulus package.

“Time is running out,” the airline CEOs’ letter says. “The worker payroll protection grants are critical to saving the jobs of our employees.”

The airline executives are also pushing for at least $29 billion in loans or loan guarantees, and are pledging that if they get them they will put limits on executive compensation and eliminate stock buybacks and dividends for the life of the loans.

Atlanta-based Delta has already cut hundreds of contractor jobs and said it is substantially reducing its use of consultants and contractors. The airline is cutting 70% of flights and parking at least half of it fleet.

More than 13,000 Delta employees have also volunteered to take unpaid leave, and the airline is taking out billions in loans.

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