Airline Workers Need Action, Not Words, to Save Our Jobs

Airline workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as essential workers since the first days the virus was identified in China. Before the global shutdown, we were working to prevent the virus from spreading through our workplaces and communities. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve continued to provide essential service by delivering medical personnel and supplies, carrying the mail, and keeping critical travel moving. But on October 1, thousands of aviation workers will join unemployment lines unless Congress and the White House act to extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program (PSP) before it expires on September 30.


In March, when Congress passed the CARES Act, the PSP provided a lifeline for hard-working Americans, and in the process helped stabilize an industry that forms the backbone of the U.S. economy. At the time, few imagined we’d be where we are today. But as the pandemic continues raging, revenue is down more than 86 percent from last year, and the aid for aviation workers’ jobs passed by Congress in March is about to expire. America’s aviation workers are calling on Congress to extend the PSP through March 31, 2021. If Congress fails to act, it will create a wave of unemployment as thousands of aviation jobs disappear literally overnight.


The fact is that everyone in Washington backs an extension of the PSP. There is overwhelming bipartisan support for extending the program, including in the House, the Senate, and the White House. Leaders from both parties have expressed belief that “a bipartisan agreement still should be reached” and pledged to “save the lives and livelihoods of the American people.” With a deadline looming, we need the administration and Congress to return to the negotiating table and put these words into action. America’s workers need an overall relief bill, and U.S. airline employees need an extension of the PSP.


The PSP is the most effective, efficient jobs program included in coronavirus relief to date. It provided stability for real people doing essential work, keeping us on payroll and covered by health care. It has kept aviation service running to every market and restricted anti worker corporate behavior like stock buybacks, executive bonuses, and Wall Street dividends. With a clean PSP extension, government leaders can ensure that airline pilots, flight attendants, and other aviation workers keep their jobs and their health care, while preserving the airlines’ role in fueling our economy, assisting the U.S. military, transporting American goods and services, and providing essential air service to small and mid-sized communities. Equally important, adopting a clean extension of the PSP would prevent the widespread economic damage that follows mass furloughs and the resulting drain on federal and state resources.


Since the pandemic began and even at this moment, U.S. airline pilots and flight attendants are at work, demonstrating our commitment to safely and efficiently transporting passengers and cargo. Whenever passengers are ready to fly, we’re ready to take them. We want to work.


Time is running out, but Congress and the administration can still deliver economic relief to save jobs and make certain that airline workers and our industry are able to assume the role that we can and want to play in the global recovery. We appreciate the overwhelming words of support and encouragement we’ve received from Congress and the White House, but the true measure is whether relief is enacted. We will not award participation trophies. The proud employees of U.S. airlines are counting on our government leaders to give their words meaning. We need the administration and Congress to save our jobs by doing theirs—and extending the CARES Act PSP through March 31, 2021.

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