Durbin Discusses Impact of Coronavirus With CEOs From American and Southwest Airlines

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the airline industry, including actions to help workers and protect consumers.  Durbin and Senate Democrats have been clear that any relief for the airline industry in any federal stimulus package must include workforce protections to help airline industry workers.

“The airline industry is facing a greater threat than 9/11, threatening the jobs of thousands in Illinois.  As Congress advances stimulus bills to address the coronavirus pandemic, any support for the airlines must include labor protections for workers in the industry.  We also have to ensure that relief is spread throughout the industry to protect the jobs of countless employees that work for the maintenance and suppliers that are so important to keeping the airline industry going,” Durbin said.

American Airlines will waive 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.

Southwest Airlines offers only a handful of international flights, within the Mexico, South America, and Caribbean regions; therefore, it has not had to consider the cancellation of any European or Asian routes.  Southwest does not regularly charge customers change fees—instead, Southwest customers earn travel credit to apply to their next purchase, which are valid for one year.

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.