WASHINGTON D.C. (WCMH) — Time is up for thousands of airlines workers who could soon be out of work after Congress missed the October 1 deadline to extend financial help to the airline industry.
When Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, joined fellow flight attendants on capitol hill three weeks ago, she hoped lawmakers would get their message in time to save their jobs.
“I’m really angry,” Nelson said. “I think people thought this wasn’t a hard deadline.”
The payroll support program expired Wednesday night and previously it had funneled more than $30 billion to the airline industry to keep the planes flying and employees on the job.
Now, as many as 45,000 airline workers could be furloughed or laid off.
On top of the furloughs, several airlines say they may have to cut routes to certain markets in the coming weeks in mostly small and medium sized cities.
For example, American Airlines says it will stop flying to 15 cities later this month.
Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown says additional money for airlines must be part of a larger COVID-19 relief bill.
“I don’t think there’s many people who want to say ‘Okay, we’ll help the airlines but not unemployed workers,'” Brown said.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany blamed Democrats.
“We are willing to look at a plan, legislation that is just clean legislation to protect those airline workers,” she said.
Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue believes both sides need to find common ground.
“I believe that if cooler heads can prevail, we can get some more aid to these airlines,” Perdue said.
Some top airline officials say if Congress can come up with a relief bill in the next day or so, they may be able to keep workers on the job.