Wicker, Collins Introduce Legislation to Provide Additional Relief to Air Transportation Sector

September 21, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, today introduced the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act of 2020. The legislation would extend the airline worker Payroll Support Program (PSP) through March 2021.  

“The CARES Act successfully saved thousands of jobs that support the airline industry and provided these businesses with some breathing space after the drastic drop in air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wicker. “However, the market has not turned around as much as we had hoped, and additional relief is needed to prevent more than 60,000 aviation sector employees from losing their jobs beginning October 1. This legislation would extend the critical Payroll Support Program to provide support for passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and aviation contractors. It would also preserve our nationwide service by requiring airlines to maintain routes as a condition for receiving assistance. Maintaining a strong national air transportation system is critical for today’s economy and the continued recovery.”

“The pandemic has had a devastating toll on the aviation industry, putting many American jobs at risk.  The Payroll Support Program that was included in the CARES Act saved over 700,000 of these jobs.  Our legislation to extend this lifeline would help frontline employees to continue to receive a paycheck and require airlines to maintain flights to every community they serve,” said Collins.  “As the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I am committed to ensuring that all facets of our transportation network, including buses, motorcoaches, passenger ferries, and public transportation, have the resources they need to survive the current economic crisis.”

The Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act would: 

  • Extend PSP through March 31, 2021;
  • Provide $28 billion in assistance for passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and airline contractors;
  • $11 billion in new appropriations
  • $17.4 billion in funding repurposed from unspent CARES Act PSP funds and loans
  • Preserve national air service;
  • Include CARES Act taxpayer protections, including requirements that some of the assistance be paid back as loans with interest.

The Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act contains a technical correction to the CARES Act PSP to align airline payroll expense calculations for smaller air carriers with the exact standards and criteria applied to larger air carriers. The new PSP would also allow some airlines an opportunity to request payroll support based a different time window than was used under the CARES Act. This would ensure those passenger airlines that added jobs or increased worker wages and benefits during the later period would receive a more equitable amount of payroll support than they received under the first PSP. 

Click here to read the bill.