Officials announced Monday that they had reached final agreements with six carriers — Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit and United airlines — on grant money to fund the Payroll Support Program. The money is to be used to pay front line workers, including pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.
Treasury officials also said they are working to finalize agreements with five other major carriers: Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian and SkyWest airlines and JetBlue Airways, all of which have indicated that they plan to participate in the program.
“The Payroll Support Program is critical to supporting American workers and preserving our airline industry, which is a vital part of the U.S. economy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that accompanied the announcement. “We continue to work quickly to deliver this needed relief.”
About $2.9 billion in initial payments were made Monday to approved applicants, including two major airlines and 45 smaller carriers, officials said. Additional payments will be made to airlines on a rolling basis.
Word that funds have begun flowing is welcome news for the industry, which has been reeling from the impact of the virus and fearful that recovery is still many months away.
As of April 15, U.S. carriers had idled more than 2,700 aircraft, roughly 44 percent of the total fleet, according to Airlines for America, an industry trade group.
At a briefing Tuesday, Brian Pearce, chief economist with the International Air Transport Association, said recent survey results showed that 40 percent of passengers said they would wait six months or more