SkyWest  (SKYW) - Get Report said it applied for federal relief cash as the regional airline prepares to report quarterly earnings after the market closes today.

In a statement, the St. George, Utah, carrier said that on April 3 it applied for federal payroll support grants under the Cares (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act.

The regional airline said it was also suspending dividend payments and share buybacks.

The coronavirus has triggered a plunge in flight demand, with a 50% drop expected in April "with completed flights well off historic norms," the airline said. SkyWest said it also expects May "to be down slightly more than April."

 A slew of major carriers have also applied for relief money under the Cares Act, including Spirit, United, American, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue. 

The $2 trillion federal economic rescue package set aside $50 billion for the battered airline industry, with half the money targeted for payroll grants.

The Regional Airline Association has been pushing the U.S. Treasury Department to ensure that smaller airlines that handle short-haul routes for the big carriers are able to get adequate payroll aid and other help.

The trade group, which represents 20 airlines, including SkyWest and Missouri-based Trans States Airlines, has called for a floor of at least $250 million for each carrier.

Regional carriers employ over 70,000 people, and operate 41% of departures each year in the U.S., transporting 160 million passengers, according to the RAA.

Shares of SkyWest at last check were 4.4% lower at $27.12.