Travel industry layoffs could begin Thursday as Congress fails to come up with a new relief package

With the federal stimulus due to run out Thursday, airlines, hotels and other travel-related businesses are trying desperately to urge Congress to act on a new relief plan to head off mass layoffs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to try to work out a deal, to no avail. A House vote was postponed Wednesday on Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes another $25 billion in support for airlines, in hopes of reaching an agreement through negotiation with Republicans who oppose it.

Travel industry officials, meanwhile, were sounding the alarm.

“The clock is ticking and time is quickly running out for Congress to extend the effective and successful Payroll Support Program that has kept critical frontline airline employees on the job and off unemployment,” said Nicholas Calio, CEO of trade group Airlines for America in a statement Tuesday. “Tomorrow, tens of thousands of airline workers will be furloughed if the program is not extended.”

With airlines collectively losing $5 billion a month due to lack of customers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he has estimated that up to 100,000 airline-related workers could be left without jobs. Earlier this year, Congress granted airlines some $50 billion in relief, half of which went to pay worker salaries.

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