Airlines Get $15 Billion in Aid — or $500,000 for Each Rehired Worker

Airlines Get $15 Billion in Aid — or $500,000 for Each Rehired Worker

Jacky Naegelen

The new Covid-19 relief package will give U.S. airlines $15 billion, with the money intended to be used to bring about 32,000 workers back onto payrolls.

But the airline business is in terrible shape thanks to the virus, with traffic down by two-thirds, and the industry doesn’t see it coming back any time soon, which means many of those rehired workers could lose their jobs again, perhaps as soon as March.

“That’s right: The American taxpayer is putting up almost $500,000 for each airline worker to have three months worth of employment,” says Bloomberg’s Joe Nocera in an op-ed piece Tuesday.

The major players in the airline industry seem to have enough capital to weather the downturn on their own, Nocera says: “United Airlines Holdings Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc., which laid off the vast majority of those 32,000 employees, are both burning between $25 million and $30 million in cash a day — but each has more than $15 billion in liquidity.”

The remarkable level of support for a relatively small group of multi-billion-dollar companies may have something to do with their political influence in Washington, Nocera says, not least their ability to hire lobbyists.