While still awaiting Congress’ approval on a stimulus plan that appeared to be close this morning, the major U.S. airlines nonetheless are drafting plans to completely shut down – voluntarily or government-ordered – meaning domestic travel in this country would come to a halt.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday night that beleaguered carriers are struggling to stay afloat, having already cut their lucrative international flights, flying some domestic routes with barely a dozen passengers on board and wondering how long the nation’s air-traffic control system can hold up as it continues to be plundered by the coronavirus.
Several ATC facilities have already had to close after seeing positive cases of the virus.
The report stressed that no final decisions have been made by either the carriers or the Trump administration, which is reluctant to do so especially since the airlines also haul mail and cargo, but the reality is that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported an 80 percent drop in travelers on Sunday compared to the same day last year.
That comes in the wake of several states issuing lockdowns for a combined 80 million people that would prevent non-essential travel anyway.
The Hill, a respected Washington D.C. publication, also noted that an industry official told the Journal that the airlines would “definitely prefer” if the government initiated a shutdown somewhat because they could use it as leverage during calls for federal aid.
As of publication time this morning, Congress was still wrestling with partisan politics to approve a $2.5 trillion stimulus package that would include $58 billion for the airlines.
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