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Airlines Take Over $11 Billion in Payroll Support from Second Stimulus

Airlines Take Over $11 Billion in Payroll Support from Second Stimulus
Joe Cortez

After the second stimulus package was passed by both houses of Congress, airlines wasted no time taking their piece of the allocated Payroll Support Program funds. Across U.S.-based carriers, the additional bill for employee funds is expected to exceed $11 billion.

In a rush to bring back airline employees and resume operations, U.S.-based airlines were quick to accept more Payroll Support Program funds from the second stimulus bill passed by Congress. Data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury shows airlines are expected to receive over $11 billion from the federal government.

Legacy Carriers, Southwest and Alaska Take Biggest Share

According to the Treasury, 239 airlines and 179 aviation contractors applied for Payroll Support Program funds from the second stimulus package. The applications were submitted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, 2021. The data shows that the passenger-carrying airlines will be the first to receive government support for the drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking the most money is American Airlines, expected to accept over $3.09 billion from the government. Of that, they will be expected to repay $896 million, or roughly 30 percent of the balance. Atlanta’s Delta Air Lines is expected to accept over $2.86 billion in payroll support, with a payback balance of around $828 million. Fellow legacy carrier United Airlines will take over $2.6 billion, and will repay approximately $753 million.

Outside of the legacy carriers, Southwest Airlines is the only one to accept a payroll support package valued over $1 billion. The Dallas-based airline will take a total of $1.73 billion in funds, with a repayable balance of $488 million. Two airlines with future ties to American – Alaska Airlines and JetBlue – will each take in roughly $500 million of employee support funds.

Also accepting support in the second round of funding are the low-cost carriers: Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines. Spirit will take $184 million, Frontier will accept $140 million, and Allegiant will take just under $92 million. Hawaiian Airlines is accepting around $167 million in federal support.

Funding Comes as Airlines Post Record-Worst Numbers from 2020

The new influx of Payroll Support Program cash comes in as airlines begin to report their fourth-quarter and full-year reports from 2020. Delta Air Lines posted a total loss of $15.6 billion for 2020, while United’s losses for the year exceeded $7 billion. Next to announce their results is Alaska on Jan. 26, 2021, followed by American and Southwest on Jan. 28, 2021.

View Comments (3)


  1. FlyingNone

    January 21, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    To do what with it ?…… Pay people to come in, stand around and look at one another ? Isn’t that called UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS? What happens at the end of March, more $billions given ? – I guess the government is going to carry the airlines indefinitely? Ridiculous.

  2. AsiaTravel2019

    January 23, 2021 at 6:30 am

    Corporate welfare doesn’t fix the problem. Airlines should be allowed to restructure, cancel airplane leases, renegotiate debt. If you want to help the workers, just pay them unemployment.

  3. edgewood49

    January 23, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Just sucking more money from the taxpayers to feed their overhead and poor management. Sadly this is just the beginning ( sorry for the political injection)

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