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Could A Presidential Executive Order Save Airline Jobs?

Could A Presidential Executive Order Save Airline Jobs?
Joe Cortez

The White House is debating issuing an executive order to provide support funds to airlines if Congress does not come up with a “phase four” stimulus bill. But would it be enough to keep over 19,000 airline employees on the payrolls? There is some doubt that a proclamation could be enough to save jobs.

If Congress cannot agree on a “phase four” stimulus bill to support airline jobs, the White House says they are prepared to step in and provide additional funding to the carriers. Reuters reports the staff of president Donald Trump is talking with airlines to determine if an executive order is necessary to provide additional support.

“If Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems”

The announcement comes one day after two airlines said they would remove over 19,000 employees from their payrolls by Oct. 1, 2020. American Airlines sent furlough notices to 17,500 employees, while another 1,500 management roles will be eliminated outright. At Delta Air Lines, over 1,900 pilots were told they would be furloughed as the airline says they are “overstaffed” compared to flyer demand.

During an interview with Politico, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the executive branch is considering providing help to the airlines through an executive order. Although the use of executive orders for spending was in question, a fact check by USA Today suggests the president can issue spending orders through executive orders – but Congress would need to ultimately approve the spend.

“If Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems,” Meadows said, as quoted by Reuters. “So hopefully, we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed.”

In a later interview, Meadows said he was not optimistic that Congress would pass another stimulus package similar to the CARES Act by the end of September. Both Democrats and Republicans have been battling most of the summer over key factors of the “phase four” stimulus bill, including how much support would go to airlines.

“Executive orders will not save our jobs”

Although the president’s staff says they are willing to sign an executive order, airline unions say it won’t be enough to keep employees paid and with their airlines. In a statement, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA says Congress needs to act if they plan on saving jobs in the aviation sector.

“Executive orders will not save our jobs,” the union wrote on their website. “Executive orders would not put in place a “clean extension” of our Payroll Support Program (PSP) with all of the job requirements that will save our jobs and keep our industry intact to serve the American public during this pandemic – and provide the lift our economy will need on the other side of it. We need Congress to act.”

If additional support is not given to airlines, the carriers say that they could cut more than 50,000 people from their ranks. Earlier in 2020, United Airlines sent WARN notices to over 30,000 employees, but have yet to finalize the number of potential furloughs in their ranks.

View Comments (5)


  1. DFW_Airwolf


    August 27, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Big Question is how many people will get this Bailout if it comes. What about all the people already INVOLUNTARY SEPERATED that are still being pain until Oct 1st. Will they be included or only the UNION Job people still working because of their contracts, but will be gone as of Oct 1st. How about they force them to include EVERYONE no matter

  2. sfoeuroflyer

    August 27, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    A classic example of what happens when government intervenes: it creates a policy that destroys and then is forced to create another policy in an effort to ameliorate the destruction it caused. The current environment makes travel almost impossible. States arbitrarily impose quarantines. Nobody will fly to NY or Hawaii and hole up for 14 days. States have shut down restaurants. Who will go to NY if you can’t go out to a restaurant. We have closed our borders to Europeans and Europeans have repaid the favor shutting down their borders to us. There goes transatlantic travel. This is much bigger than temporary layoffs.

  3. BC Shelby

    August 27, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    …but nothing for small businesses which have taken a kick to the gut and are closing for good.

    If like other corporations who received a generous tax break in 2017, the the major airlines didn’t squander their savings on stock buybacks, they would have funds to weather them through this.

  4. am1108

    August 31, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Not to be heartless, but not sure that the airlines can avoid furloughing or laying off flight attendants when they are operating at 30-40% what they were doing before. With the younger generation having a lot of wanderlust it should be easier to hire Flight attendants back and to hire new ones if needed, especially since years ago the major airlines had a more exclusive process of hiring FAs than that of applications to Harvard.

    Don’t get me wrong! I do believe FA’s should still be supported but tbh not 100% convinced that the airlines should keep everyone hired nor have a hand in the money they receive to aid their staff, especially since some companies change their tone right after they get what they want.

  5. somil34

    September 14, 2020 at 12:03 am

    May be

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