With the federal stimulus set to run out on Thursday, airlines, hotels and other travel-related businesses are desperately trying to urge Congress to act on a new back-up plan to avoid mass layoffs.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to try to strike a deal, to no avail. A House vote was postponed on Wednesday on Democrats’ $ 2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes an additional $ 25 billion in support for airlines, in hopes of reaching a deal by negotiation with the Republicans who oppose it.
Officials in the travel industry, meanwhile, sounded the alarm bells.
“The clock is ticking and time is quickly running out for Congress to extend the effective and successful payroll support program that has enabled essential frontline airline workers to stay on the job and stay unemployed,” said Nicholas Calio, CEO of the Airlines for America business group in a statement Tuesday. “Tomorrow tens of thousands of airline workers will be laid off if the program is not extended.”
With airlines collectively losing $ 5 billion a month due to lack of customers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he estimated that up to 100,000 airline-related workers could be left out of work. Earlier this year, Congress gave airlines $ 50 billion in aid, half of which went to pay workers’ wages.
Airports in North America face losses of more than $ 23 billion due to falling air travel, according to Airports Council International. “Government inaction during this time of crisis is not an option,” said Kevin Burke, CEO for North America.
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The entire travel industry in the United States employed 15.8 million Americans, or about one in 10jobs, before the pandemic. But his appearance wiped out 51% of them, Roger Dow, CEO of the US Travel Association, told a press conference on Tuesday. And relief has not come for some major travel companies, such as small nonprofit marketing organizations beyond museums and other attractions.
The damage was particularly devastating for the hotels.
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The hotel industry has already lost 2 million of the 8.3 million jobs it held before the pandemic. Without relief, the number of jobs lost could rise to 3.7 million, warned William “Chip” Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Some 38,000 of the country’s 57,000 hotels that were in operation at the start of the year could be forced to close within six months.
The hotels are “really on the verge of collapse,” Rogers said. “We need Congress to act before our industry changes forever.”
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Tourism dependent cities, like scenic Savannah, Georgia, have suffered. Mayor Van Johnsons said the city knew it would take years to recover and shake the city at its core in the meantime.
“We know visitors will eventually come back to Savannah, but we don’t know what type of Savannah they will return to,” Johnson said.
Contributor: Associated Press