Last weekend, airline executives including the CEOs from United Airline Holdings (NASDAQ:UAL), Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for help to get through the economic hardship brought by the coronavirus pandemic. The request "on behalf of 750,000 airline professionals and our nation's airlines" asked for a combination of loans and loan guarantees, as well as worker payroll protection grants. 

The executives warned that if cash grants were not included in aid legislation worker furloughs would be imminent. It specified that with at least $29 billion in grants for the industry participating passenger and cargo airlines would agree to keep the current full workforce through August 31, 2020. The stimulus bill that has now passed in the U.S. Senate includes up to $32 billion in such grants, according to CNBC.

Airplane flying over the clouds

Image source: Getty Images.

Help for the entire industry

A draft of the bill, which would include the agreement to maintain the workforce, calls for cash grants of $25 billion for passenger airlines plus another $7 billion combined for cargo airlines and contractors, CNBC reports. 

The report said that the Senate bill specified the companies would "refrain from conducting involuntary furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits" through September 30, 2020. Additional conditions include an unspecified time period where the companies would not be allowed to repurchase shares or pay dividends. A final version of the bill has yet to be put up for a vote in the House of Representatives.