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Airline industry's coronavirus bailout may draw on lessons of 9/11
Airline rescue package coming this weekend
President Trump says the soon-to-be-revealed airline industry relief package will help that sector and the United States.
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While the airline industry awaits the terms of a government bailout needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, 21st-century history offers some clues to the strings that might be attached.
Carriers previously requested help from Washington when business plummeted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which hijacked airliners were flown into buildings, killing everyone aboard.
Traffic took nearly three years to recover after sliding 43 percent, and the George W. Bush administration offered a package of assistance including loan guarantees in the interim.
How long a rebound might take for U.S. carriers today is impossible to tell. The value of the NYSE Arca Airline Index has plunged 57 percent to $48.6 billion since COVID-19 was first reported in the U.S. on Jan. 21, with the pandemic forcing more than 316 million Americans to observe “stay-at-home” orders and bringing air traffic to a standstill.
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The number of passenger screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration on April 8 — a gauge of demand — plunged 96 percent year-over-year to 94,931, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s major trade group. Last year, more than 2.2 million passengers were screened on the same day.
"The airline business has been hit very hard as everybody knows,” President Trump said at a news conference on Thursday evening. “We are going to be in a position to do a lot to help them so that they keep their employees and they save their businesses.”