Airlines, labor unions again push for another $25 billion in federal aid as more than 30,000 job cuts loom

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Jets are parked on runway 28 at the Pittsburgh International Airport on March 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jeff Swensen | Getty Imageas

Airline executives and labor unions on Wednesday again pushed for billions in additional federal aid as a ban on industry job cuts is set to expire in less than two weeks and a recovery in travel demand hasn’t materialized.

U.S. airlines could furlough or lay off more than 30,000 workers, starting Oct. 1. The terms of a $25 billion aid package for airlines that Congress approved in March as part of a larger coronavirus package, prohibited job cuts through Sept. 30.

“Despite the aggressive self-help measures the company has taken to bolster its financial position, and even with several thousand of our colleagues opting for voluntary leave and early retirement, nearly 20,000 American Airlines team members are facing furloughs in just two short weeks, and several markets in our domestic network are at risk of significant reductions in air service,” American Airlines‘ CEO Doug Parker wrote to lawmakers and Trump administration officials in a letter that was also signed by labor union leaders that represent most of its workers.

Airlines are pushing for another $25 billion that would preserve sector jobs through the end of next March. The proposal has won bipartisan support in Congress and from President Donald Trump. While lawmakers and the White House have yet to reach a deal on a new stimulus package that could include another round of relief, Trump on Wednesday pushed Republicans to back a bigger stimulus bill.  And White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that he is “probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal in the last 72 hours than I have been in the last 72 days.”

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby on Wednesday said in an interview with Politico that the industry needs additional aid and said he was hopeful.

Earlier this month, United said it could cut around 16,000 jobs this fall when after the current round of aid expires, though it has reached a preliminary agreement with its pilots’ union to avoid nearly 3,000 furloughs. The union said Wednesday that its leadership approved the agreement, which prevents furloughs through at least June 2021, that includes work reductions that aim to lower costs, among other provisions. The Air Line Pilots Association’s some 13,000 members will vote on the agreement next week.

CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk contributed to this article.

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