US President Donald Trump tweeting an end to new stimulus talks until after the election is dealing a major blow to airlines that are struggling during the pandemic, industry groups said Tuesday.
Major US airline stocks fell sharply when Trump tweeted that the Senate would no longer consider the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill proposed by House Democrats. The bill included $25 billion for airlines—new relief that airlines say would have allowed them to bring the roughly 50,000 workers they furloughed on October 1 back on the job.
Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants blasted Trump and Republicans in Congress.
"As Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi moved close to a deal that would provide relief to working people across the country, President Trump issued one tweet to blow up the deal and leave millions of essential workers in freefall," Nelson said. "Senate Republicans will own this cruel maneuver that puts our economy in a tailspin unless they demand COVID relief now."
In a statement, American Airlines said it was "disheartened" that stimulus talks stalled. Involuntary furloughs for 19,000 American Airlines employees went into effect last Thursday.
"The past week has dealt a crushing blow to the American Airlines team and the aviation industry, and we were hopeful that overwhelming bipartisan support for the Payroll Support Program would result in immediate action to protect jobs and service to communities across the country," said an American Airlines spokesperson. "We will continue to make the case in Washington that action is needed to help workers across the country and lead America to the other side of this pandemic."
Frank Benenati, a spokesperson for United Airlines, said the pandemic had "had devastating consequences on the airline industry and our United Airlines team."
"There is wide, bipartisan support in providing assistance to our industry and we will continue to do everything we can to urge leaders in Washington to pass legislation that will save airline jobs," he said. "As we have made clear, we are eager to reverse the furlough process should Congress pass legislation to extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program, and we will continue to update our employees on the latest as this unfolds."