CARES Impact On Airline Mechanics Still Uncertain

The financial help available to airlines under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) come with restrictions and conditions that may keep eligible airlines from going after at least some of it. 

Grants must be used to meet payrolls, and involuntary layoffs are not allowed through September. Loans come with a requirement to maintain staffing levels as much as possible, with a maximum reduction of 10% until the fourth quarter. Airlines taking loans also would be required to maintain at least some service in markets they served as of March 1; the grant provisions say airlines “may” be required to keep flights. 

“U.S. airlines were among the first industries to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic and will be key to our country’s recovery,” said Airlines For America President Nick Calio. “The [payroll assistance] provisions in the CARES Act are designed to provide immediate financial relief that is necessary to continue funding the payrolls of U.S. airlines. We remain hopeful that the federal government will expeditiously release these funds with as few restrictions as possible to ensure airlines are able to utilize these provisions and meet our payroll.”

The aid package, while lauded by A4A and others, could have different effects on mechanics at different airlines.

For example, with a new contract signed and government aid under CARES, the Transport Workers Union Of America is confident there will be no involuntary layoffs, at least until September, of mechanics at American Airlines and its subsidiary Envoy Airlines, according to TWU International Vice President Gary Peterson.