US airlines are set to receive renewed financial backing to tune of the 14 billion dollars after US lawmakers approved a new payroll assistance package as part of a Covid-19 relief bill.
This is the third round of government support to the ailing airline sector since March 2019.
The latest six-month extension will retain thousands of jobs through to September 30.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomed the decision.
“This incredible stimulus package will be welcomed by travel and tourism businesses across the US, many of whom are struggling to survive. This package promises a much-needed boost while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the sector,” said WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara.
Congress has awarded US airlines a total of 54 billion for payroll costs since March 2020 after US air passenger travel declined by 60 percent in 2020 to the lowest level since 1984.
Travel and tourism in the US has seen 9.2 million jobs impacted and 155 billion dollars lost due to the collapse of international travel in 2020, which is equal to a shortfall of 425 million dollars every day.
“ASTA welcomes the provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act that will support travel-reliant businesses and the industry as whole recover from the Covid-19 crisis,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.
“These include funding for vaccine distribution, extension of the employee retention tax credit through the end of the year with extra benefits for ‘severely distressed’ businesses, extension of the CARES Act’s enhanced unemployment benefits for laid-off employees and independent contractors through September, fully funding the CARES Act’s EIDL advance grant program and setting aside a portion of state and local government funding to support travel and tourism businesses,” he said.
WTTC said key to restarting international travel is the introduction of a comprehensive testing regime on departure and arrival.
Meanwhile, US airline company shares rose by 16 percent over the past month driven in large part to vaccine rollouts.