In a bipartisan proposal for coronavirus aid of $908 billion, the US Senate has set aside $17 billion for the struggling airline industry. 

The $908 billion coronavirus aid package would set aside $45 billion for the transportation sector, according to Reuters. The offices of Senators Mitt Romney and Mark Warner said the plan includes $17 billion for the airlines, $15 billion for transit systems, $4 billion for airports, $8 billion for private buses and $1 billion for passenger railroad Amtrak. The amount would support the sector for four months. 

It is expected to be approved in December 2020 and would last the carriers through early 2021.  After that Congress and President-elect Joe Biden would have to decide if new funds should be approved. 

The proposal still needs to be approved by the Congress and the White House. So far, neither authority has expressed their support of the plan. 

Airlines previously received $25 billion under the CARES Act in March 2020. The aid helped them to pay the staff and avoid job cuts until October 2020. Once the financial support has expired, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and United Airlines furloughed more than 32,000 workers in October 2020. Since then, the airlines have been lobbying for additional financial aid to keep workers on the payroll. 

“Extending the Payroll Support Program is a critical step for preserving jobs, rebuilding the travel industry and restoring the economic health of our country,” said the President of Airlines for America Nick Calio in October 2020. 

Earlier in November 2020, the International Air Transport Association reported that North American carriers saw a 91.3% traffic decline in September 2020. North American airlines have lost more than $36 billion in 2020.

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On October 1, 2020, CARES act expired, and U.S. airlines - including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines - started laying off and furloughing their staff in thousands. A replacement for it, talked about for months on end, never came. But why? What actually happened?