Durbin Discusses COVID-19 Stimulus Bill with American Airlines CEO

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker today about the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on the airline industry and how the company is planning to use its federal relief funding to help workers and protect consumers during this unprecedented crisis. 

“The airline industry is facing a greater threat than 9/11, threatening the jobs of thousands in Illinois. The stimulus bill passed last week included strong protections for workers in the airline industry and I believe it will provide them much-needed relief.  I urged American Airlines to do everything it can to protect the jobs of countless employees that work for them during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” Durbin said.

Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included $61 billion in federal grant and loan funding for airlines impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Airlines has waived change fees for passengers who purchased a ticket prior to March 1 for travel through April 30, and for passengers who purchased a ticket between March 1 and March 31 for travel through January 30, 2021.  American has suspended flights to Milan, Italy, through April 24, and halted operations to and from Seoul, South Korea, in addition to cutting routes to Europe.

However, despite remaining traveler destinations, Airline for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, reports that ticket cancellations among its airlines are outpacing new bookings. The latest Transportation Security Administration (TSA) throughput numbers from A4A continue to show a 92 percent drop from last year in the number of people traveling by air.  Flights at Chicago’s Midway Airport are down 53 percent and flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are down 50 percent. A year ago, TSA throughput was just under 2.5 million people per day, and now it’s below 200,000 per day.