Senator Cornyn

With Vaccine Distribution Imminent, Cornyn Calls for Immediate Support of Airlines

November 20, 2020

AUSTIN –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today called for Congress to immediately extend the Payroll Support Program for airlines, who’ve had to furlough employees and shut down critical infrastructure, in preparation for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the nation:

“The aviation industry has suffered immensely due to lower travel demand during the pandemic, and unfortunate but necessary cost-cutting measures taken by the airlines mean they don’t currently have the infrastructure or manpower to distribute vaccines quickly across the nation,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “Particularly for rural and small town Texans, we need to strengthen the distribution system now so that when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, we’re ready to send lifelines to as many Texans as possible. This is about more than saving jobs, it’s about saving lives.”

With COVID-19 vaccines on the brink of approval, the nation’s freight distribution network is preparing to move millions of vials. Air carriers, both freight and commercial, are an essential component of this network, but air carriers have been forced to downsize. In order to distribute the vaccine, these carriers need to mobilize tens-of-thousands of mechanics, pilots, and support personnel currently furloughed, at great cost to their companies. Extending the Paycheck Support Program would allow air carriers to bring back employees, recertify pilots, and mobilize fleets before – not after – vaccine production begins.

Sen. Cornyn is a cosponsor of the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act, which would help U.S. airlines keep their workers on the payroll amid significant decrease in travel demand during the pandemic. This bill would provide additional financial assistance for airline employee wages, salaries, and benefits.

The Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act:

  • Extends the Payroll Support Program through March 2021
  • Provides financial assistance for employee wages, salaries, and benefits:
    • Up to $25.5 billion for passenger air carriers
    • Up to $300 million for cargo air carriers
    • Up to $3 billion for airline contractors
  • Reallocates $19.9 billion in unused CARES Act funds