US airlines cheer government relief

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CHICAGO United Airlines Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines welcomed on Friday a $50 billion relief package they said would protect jobs through September but warned that the continued challenges facing the industry will require more action. Airlines are weathering their largest ever downturn as the coronavirus has ground global travel to a halt. A massive government stimulus package passed on Friday gives airlines some breathing room in terms of managing costs, but they still face tough decisions in the months ahead. “If the recovery is as slow as we fear, it means our airline and our workforce will have to be smaller than it is today,” United said in a memo to employees. Based on projections for the spread of the coronavirus and the global economy’s reaction, Chief Executive Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said they expect “demand to remain suppressed for months after that, possibly into next year.” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees that the relief package was not “a cure” and urged workers to continue signing up for voluntary unpaid leaves of absence. U.S. airlines are set to receive $25 billion in grants to cover payrolls over the next six months, but are still encouraging workweek reductions—Reuters