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Airlines received $25 billion from the federal government in March to prevent coronavirus-related layoffs or furloughs through September. American Airlines and Delta Airlines both said earlier this week they plan on slashing their workforces in October, but Meadows said the White House is looking to put a stop to it.
“I spoke to American, United and Delta, all three of them and any time that you can keep employers with employees not being furloughed or laid off it’s a good thing," Meadows said during an interview with Politico Playbook.
American Airlines said it plans on cutting 19,000 jobs via layoffs or furloughs but an additional $25 billion bailout could avoid this for another six months. Delta said it is looking to lay off nearly 2,000 pilots barring a new deal with the pilots' union.
The airline industry took a severe hit when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and even with numbers improving since its low point in April, passenger traffic is still down 70% from a year ago.
“[I]t was assumed that by Sept. 30, the virus would be under control and demand for air travel would have returned. That is obviously not the case,” American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a letter to employees, the Associated Press reported.
A United Airlines pilot wears a face mask as he walks to a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 24, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Even with the current hold on furloughs, airlines have been using other methods of cutting their workforces. American Airlines said that 23,500 workers have already left after accepting buyouts, agreeing to early retirement, or taking extended leaves of absence.
Meadows said he believes it would take something like the CARES Act to solve the problem, but if Congress is unable to pass legislation in time, the White House is ready to step in.
"We’re looking at other executive actions. I think everybody every time they hear that we’re going to do executive action they don’t believe me," he said. "We’ve got four executive actions that actually the president took. We’re going to take a few others. If Congress is not going to work this president is going to get to work to solve some problems. So hopefully was can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.