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Congress Considering $50 Billion Transportation Bailout

By Lou Whiteman - Feb 9, 2021 at 9:00AM

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The proposal would continue payroll assistance to airlines and add support for aerospace manufacturers.

Congressional leaders are seeking to provide more than $50 billion in additional aid to the transportation sector, with airlines, transit systems, and aerospace manufacturers among the proposed beneficiaries targeted for assistance.

The Democrats' plan, which was first reported by Reuters, calls for $14 billion in additional payroll assistance for the airlines, $8 billion to U.S. airports, and $3 billion for airplane makers. The proposal also includes $30 billion to local transit agencies, $1.5 billion to Amtrak, and funding for other ancillary businesses.

A plane under construction in a hanger.

Image source: Getty Images.

The proposal is part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package currently being considered.

Airlines have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has sapped travel demand, and with airlines struggling to break even, demand for new jets has also plummeted. The airlines expect it to take years for travel demand to return to pre-pandemic levels, causing Boeing (BA -0.18%) to slash its forecast for deliveries over the next decade.

The airlines have already received about $40 billion in payroll support, which has allowed the industry to avoid layoffs despite revenue falling more than 60% year over year. But the current round of stimulus expires on March 31, and airlines are likely to look to furloughs or layoffs at that time.

The support for manufacturers is new. Boeing is cutting more than 25,000 jobs due to falling demand, and its suppliers have made massive cuts as well.

The proposed assistance, according to Reuters, would provide a 50% government subsidy to cover pay, benefits, and training for employees who have been furloughed or who are at risk of furlough.

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