How the Coronavirus is Affecting the Airline Industry

Planes are grounded. Travel worldwide has been halted. People who’ve planned trips have had to cancel them indefinitely, all because of the rapidly spreading and deadly coronavirus. The airline industry is suffering greatly because of the pandemic and the U.S. government recently announced a bailout plan for the industry that will provide $60 billion in funding to help inspire a comeback once the coronavirus has been contained, according to Business Insider. “Airlines will receive nearly $60 billion in financial assistance as part of the Senate’s rescue package, meeting their request as the industry falls into a tailspin due to the coronavirus pandemic,” as noted by the article. “The bill grants $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines, and an additional $4 billion for cargo air carriers.”

There are also protections in place for workers as a result of the bailout plan, which is designed to ensure that companies don’t treat employees poorly due to the virus. “The loans are conditional on job protection — airlines accepting aid will not be allowed to lay off or furlough workers until September 30, at which point the crisis could be over or winding down for air carriers,” according to Business Insider.

Meanwhile, executives within the airline industry are being barred from earning more compensation as a result of the bailout plans decided on between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. “Executive compensation for any airline receiving aid is capped at 2019 levels. CEOs of the major U.S. airlines earned between $10 million and $15 million in total compensation in 2018. Figures for 2019 are not yet publicly available,” as noted by the publication.

“This is an unprecedented win for frontline aviation workers and a template all workers can build from,” AFA president Sara Nelson said in a statement to Business Insider. “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,” she added in the statement to the publication.

In sum, the airline industry will be greatly changed for years to come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the way in which it’s being bailed out. While it’s unclear what the future will bring for the companies being bailed out in the long-term, the aid package will certainly help workers struggling to make ends meet in the short-term.