- U.S. airlines are seeking more than $50 billion in government aid as business collapses during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Some lawmakers and labor unions say airlines have to protect workers and consumers in return.
- The four biggest U.S. carriers — Delta, American, Southwest and United — have collectively spent about $39 billion over the last five years buying back shares, according to a tally from S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The more than $50 billion in government aid U.S. airlines are seeking as the coronavirus ravages their businesses must include worker and consumer protections, Democratic lawmakers and labor unions said Tuesday. They criticized airlines for spending years of windfall profits buying back their own stock.
“No blank check industry bailouts,” tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Airlines are reeling from what executives have called an unprecedented collapse in travel demand as COVID-19 spreads, prompting millions of Americans to stay at home. More than 5,000 cases of coronavirus have been detected so far in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said he is discussing with lawmakers a sprawling aid package that will include assistance for U.S. airlines.