White House seeks to pass coronavirus aid, including for airlines and Boeing, ‘very quickly’

Business

Adam Carver, 38, wears a mask to protect against coronavirus while on a nearly empty Delta flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport o JFK on March 15, 2020 near New York City.

John Moore | Getty Images

The Trump administration is seeking to “very quickly” pass an aid package for industries hurt by coronavirus, including airlines, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.

Mnuchin is discussing the plan with lawmakers Tuesday afternoon.

“This is worse than 9/11 for the airline industry,” he said at a news briefing. “They are almost ground to a halt.”

U.S. airlines are seeking more than $50 billion in government assistance to combat the collapse in air travel demand as the virus spreads and governments take drastic steps, including a recommendation to avoid nonessential travel, to stem the disease’s spread. That has put the travel and aviation industries at the epicenter of the crisis.

Mnuchin said he spoke with U.S. airline CEOs this week.

The Trump administration has been seeking an $850 billion stimulus package, according to NBC News but Mnuchin declined to comment on the final sum.

“The president wants to make sure although we don’t want people to travel unless it’s critical, we want to maintain … the right to have domestic travel,” Mnuchin said.

President Donald Trump also vowed to help support Boeing, which makes both commercial aircraft and is a top U.S. military contractor, as well as companies in its supply chain.

“We have to protect Boeing,” he said. Boeing said Monday it is in talks with Trump administration officials about aid for the aviation industry.

The pain for airlines is a fresh blow for Boeing, which is already struggling with its 737 Max crisis. It’s best-selling aircraft has been grounded for more than a year following two fatal crashes.

“Now they get hit in 15 different ways,” Trump said about the spread of coronavirus.

Despite the president’s comments, Boeing shares were down more than 6% in afternoon trading, hitting fresh four-year lows.

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