Possibly one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy, the airline industry received some much needed help thanks to the new federal emergency relief bill recently signed into law.
Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) National Communications Chair Paul Hartshorn laid out how the law will help the industry and how airlines are working to help travelers feel safe enough to board planes during his segment on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
New emergency relief bill
Congress managed to pass a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill that President Trump ultimately signed into law.
The law has $15 billion earmarked for the airline industry, which will be applied retroactively from Dec. 1 through March of 2021. This funding comes after the $25 billion provided to the airline industry in the CARES Act, which covered a six-month period.
Workers will benefit from the legislation by having their pay restored, for at least a few months. Airlines are required to recall or restore employees, who were laid off and cannot demote them if they have been off-the-job.
Looking ahead, Hartshorn hopes vaccine distribution entices consumers to fly again and that funding through March is all that will be necessary. However, airlines must continue paying employees during the December through March period, even if they are not scheduled to work on any flights.
Helping people feel safe to fly again
As consumers begin to board aircrafts again, airlines and the unions are working to make them as safe as possible, and instill consumer confidence.
Hartshorn said the APFA is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal government to make a plan for when airline workers will be vaccinated. Although it seems they will be in the second round of essential workers vaccinated, it is still unclear.
Another aspect of making travelers feel safe to fly is the frequency of cleaning. What used to be a process that took place every two or three flights is now occurring before each new group boards, thanks to various airline unions. From wiping and sanitizing surfaces to nightly deep cleans, airlines are being more cautious than ever.