Airline Industry Bailout Could Come With Consumer Protections Attached

“The key question there is how long is this crisis going to last,” says David Sherpardson, Reuters, on COVID-19’s impact on the airline industry.

Movement to get a Coronavirus stimulus package through Congress came to a standstill over the weekend.

“There are so many people who work in the aviation ecosystem, lawmakers have a lot of incentive to make sure they don’t fall apart.” – David Shepardson, Reuters

Democratic lawmakers blocked the proposal during a procedural vote, stating that the plan didn’t include enough corporate oversight or adequate relief for workers. At the heart of this debate is a comprehensive bailout for the airline industry, provoking renewed scrutiny of airline companies’ checkered history.  

Listen: What’s next for an airline industry entering uncharted territory? 

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David Shepardson, who covers aviation for Reuters, says airlines are cutting a massive amount of flights. For some carriers, 90 percent of international flights have been canceled. “This is an unprecedented falloff in demand,” says Shepardson. It’s likely that a number of airlines will not be able to survive without a bailout, but Congress is worried about being portrayed as too friendly with corporations during this time, says Shepardson.

This tension at the heart of the bailout has many calling for accountability for airline companies that have in the past used billions of dollars in relief to buy back their own stocks. This means a bailout may come with some strings attached, including increased consumer protections or enhanced support for labor.


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