American Airlines (AAL) - Get Report shares slipped lower Tuesday, while rival carriers held onto modest gains, as industry leaders continue to lobby the U.S. government for significant financial support amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the largest U.S. carriers, is seeking $50 billion in loans and grants and deeper tax breaks for commercial airlines in order to weather the coming months and the myriad travel restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. A4A, as it's know, also wants another $8 billion in support for the air cargo industry.
"U.S. carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable," the lobby group said in a statement "This is compounded by the fact that the crisis does not appear to have an end in sight. In order to combat this unprecedented economic downfall,"
"A4A is recommending the following combination of programs to provide immediate and medium to long-term assistance to the U.S. airline industry and protect their employees," the statement added.
American Airlines, which plans to cut 75% of it international capacity over the next two months, was marked 1.7% lower in pre-market trading Tuesday, indicating an opening bell price of $15.65 each, a move that would take the stock's one-month decline to around 50%.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) - Get Report shares, which have slumped 38% over the past month, were marked 1.82% higher at $36.46 while United Airlines (UAL) - Get Report was seen 0.4% higher at $35.61 each. Southwest Airlines (LUV) - Get Report, edged 1.15% higher to $37.95, but has fallen some 34.4% over the past month.
President Donald Trump raised the specter of industry support during his Monday press conference, noting the sharp downturn was "not their fault".
"We're going to be backstopping the airlines. We’re going to be helping them very much," he told reporters in Washington, before later Tweeting the potential for "powerful" assistance from the Federal government.
Only two weeks ago, U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, as well as U.S. Travel Association chief Roger Dow, insisted the industry would not need government support to weather the coronavirus crisis after meeting with Trump in the White House.
"We don't need any bailouts here," Donohue said. "Bottom line is we're going to run just like business as usual - with a little higher heartbeat and get it done."
Since then, however, the International Air Transport Association has estimated that 185,000 passengers have cancelled flights over the past two months, creating a $113 billion 'black hole' in industry revenues, while "vital cargo capacity has disappeared when it is most urgently needed in the fight against COVID-19."
“Air cargo carriers are working closely with governments and health organizations around the world to safeguard public health while also keeping the global economy moving," said IATA head Alexandre de Juniac said late Monday. "Today, as we fight a global health war against COVID-19, governments must take urgent action to facilitate air cargo. Keeping cargo flowing will save lives”.