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U.S. Airlines Seek Government Support For Coronavirus Losses

By Howard Smith - Mar 13, 2020 at 3:48PM

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United, Delta, and American confirm discussions for potential assistance.

Some United States based airlines are in talks with government officials for potential assistance after getting hit by disruptions and cancellations with the spread of COVID-19, according to Reuters. United Airlines Holdings (UAL -3.49%), American Airlines Group (AAL -3.48%), and Delta Air Lines (DAL -2.27%) confirmed the discussions Friday. 

Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association for the world's airlines, estimated that there could be up to $113 billion in lost revenue from passenger airlines alone, in one "extensive spread" scenario of the coronavirus. 

airplane taking off

Image source: Getty Images.

Pursuing potential aid

Reuters reported seeing an email from United Airlines sent to employees, saying its chief executive officer, Oscar Munoz "has spent the last two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with senior officials in the Trump Administration and senior members of the U.S. House and Senate in both parties to understand what government policies they may be considering and explain to them the impact that the coronavirus has had on our business."

American Airline and Delta also confirmed being in talks for aid. Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced a 40% cut in capacity to deal with lack of demand, along with a cut in his salary, a hiring freeze, and other cash preservation methods. Bastian could not specify what form the assistance might take, but Reuters reports seeing a memo where Bastian believes there will be assistance forthcoming "to help us through this period."

Many large events are being cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus, including eliminating attendance at the popular Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A -0.27%) (BRK.B -0.14%) annual shareholder meeting, CEO Warren Buffett announced today.

Speaking to reporters Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration was prepared to assist the domestic industry with needed liquidity.

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Stocks Mentioned

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Stock Quote
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
DAL
$29.64 (-2.27%) $0.69
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.
UAL
$35.68 (-3.49%) $-1.29
American Airlines Group Inc. Stock Quote
American Airlines Group Inc.
AAL
$13.03 (-3.48%) $0.47
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.A
$411,050.00 (-0.27%) $-1,120.01
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
BRK.B
$273.49 (-0.14%) $0.37

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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