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Airlines ask for help as coronavirus slows business

Airlines ask for help as coronavirus slows business
U.S. and world airlines representatives have asked the government for urgent help as traffic slows at airports amid the coronavirus. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 16 (UPI) -- Airlines for America, the trade group for U.S. airlines, made a plea for government help Monday, amid slowing business from the coronavirus pandemic.

The trade group's total request for $60 billion in direct assistance and loan guarantees dwarfs the $15 billion requested after the Sept. 1, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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The request includes calling for $29 billion in direct assistance and another $25 billion in loans or loan guarantees, along with tax relief, according to an Airlines for America statement.

"This is a today problem, not a tomorrow problem," A4A President Nicholas Calio said in a statement. "It requires urgent action."

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Airports Council International-North America estimates $8.7 billion in losses for U.S. commercial airports this year as the number of airline passengers decreases due to the pandemic.

Also on Monday, three global alliances, Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, representing nearly 60 airlines around the world, pleaded for help from governments and stakeholders. The plea comes amid International Air Transport Association estimating up to $113 billion in revenue losses for global passenger airlines.

"The human and financial impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the aviation industry is unprecedented," SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director Kristin Colvile said in a statement. "SkyTeam, with its alliance partners, and on behalf of member airlines, is urging all involved institutions and industry stakeholders to face these extraordinary times with exceptional measures. This includes action such as slot relief, airport and overflight fees reduction."

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Separately, CAPA-Center for Aviation, which does market analysis of the industry, said most of the world airlines will be bankrupt by the end of May, calling for "coordinated government and industry action."

"The government response has been fragmented -- and is being resolved along national lines, with limited consultation," CAPA said in a statement. "As things stand, the likely tepid response to the airline crisis will equally be fragmented and nationally based. It will consist mostly of bailing out selected national airlines. If that is the default position, emerging from the crisis will be like entering a brutal battlefield, littered with casualties."

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