Statement from A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio on Passage of the CARES Act

On behalf of U.S. airlines and our 750,000 employees, we commend the Administration and the U.S. Congress for passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes provisions intended to assist the U.S. airline industry to continue making payroll and protect the jobs of hardworking men and women – pilots, flight attendants, gate agents, mechanics and others. We also are grateful for President Trump’s pledge to sign the legislation quickly.

We thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for their strong leadership for our country during this sudden and devastating health crisis. Secretary Mnuchin, who skillfully brokered agreement among the multiple interests involved, continues to demonstrate his appreciation for investing in our American workforce, and Secretary Chao constantly exhibits her vast knowledge and full dedication to strengthening our nation’s transportation infrastructure, especially aviation.

We applaud the efforts of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and Minority Leader McCarthy to secure bipartisan passage of the CARES Act, which is critical to starting the economic recovery of our country; House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman DeFazio for recognizing the importance of protecting the airline industry’s jobs; House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Graves for understanding the need for a multi-tier approach to financial assistance; and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady whose understanding of the pandemic’s impact on business was instrumental. We also want to recognize all Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, who traveled from their home districts – many of whom flew on U.S. airlines – to Washington, D.C., in time to cast votes in a bipartisan manner in support of the CARES Act to provide emergency relief for our country. No doubt, they flew on almost empty planes – a clear signal how this natural health emergency has devastated the U.S. airline industry.

Air carriers have been doing everything possible to protect the jobs of men and women who are directly employed by U.S. airlines – including pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and mechanics – as well as the 10 million jobs supported by the industry during this global health crisis. Our employees are the backbone of the industry and our greatest resource. U.S. airline employees wrote more than 450,000 letters to Congress communicating the value of their jobs and requesting immediate federal assistance to protect those jobs. The Direct Payroll Assistance provisions in the legislation are designed to provide immediate financial relief that is necessary to continue funding the payrolls of U.S. airlines. We remain hopeful that the federal government will expeditiously release these funds with as few restrictions as possible to ensure airlines are able to utilize these provisions and meet our payroll.

Before this global emergency, U.S. airlines were transporting a record 2.5 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo each day. Today, carriers are burning through cash as cancellations far outpace new bookings for U.S. carriers, planes are only 10-20 percent full and new bookings are showing 80-90 percent declines in traffic even as airlines make dramatic cuts in capacity. This week, TSA screened just 454,000 passengers on Sunday; 331,000 on Monday; 279,000 on Tuesday; 239,000 on Wednesday; and 204,000 on Thursday. This situation is getting worse each day with no end in sight.

The U.S. all-cargo carriers have been on the frontlines of this global health crisis since January, operating in heavily impacted areas to provide continued connectivity and delivery of critical humanitarian aid shipments around the world. At the same time, they have faced significant increases in operating costs due to changing entry requirements, often imposed with no notice.

The impact of government- and business-imposed travel restrictions and public fear have devastated the U.S. airline industry, our employees, travelers and the shipping public. Since the beginning of March, U.S. air carriers – both passenger and cargo – have seen their positions of strong financial health deteriorate at an unprecedented and unsustainable pace. The human, financial and operational impacts are devastating, and the future remains uncertain.