Topic Author
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US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 12:42 am

Hopefully, this will have the desired effect.

Sept. 14, 2001, 11:51PM

Congress clears funds for airlines
$15 billion in aid, loans OK'd
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle

WASHINGTON -- Congress considered an airline bailout package Friday that would provide the industry with $2.5 billion in direct aid and another $12.5 billion in loan guarantees.

The action came amid lobbying by the industry, which even before Tuesday's terrorist attacks shut down commercial air traffic nationwide, was expected to lose more than $2 billion this year.

Gordon Bethune, chairman and chief executive officer of Houston-based Continental Airlines, said Friday that without a government bailout, many carriers likely wouldn't survive.

"I know that for liquidity purposes, if there's not an infusion like that amongst at least the 10 airlines that I know about, that they won't be around here at the end of the year," Bethune told NBC news Friday afternoon. "There's a good likelihood."

Bethune did not name specific carriers, including his own. But he suggested the carriers needed government help "so we can get on our feet and resize our companies to meet the decreased demand."

At the end of this year's second quarter, Continental reported it had more than $1 billion in cash on hand.

Airline industry officials, including Continental, met with lawmakers and asked for an open-ended $2.5 billion assistance package, and several airline companies warned if they didn't get it, they'd have to file for bankruptcy next week, according to congressional aides familiar with the meetings.

But aides said lawmakers balked at the request. Instead, they wrote a bill that would require proof of those losses through financial statements and other relevant data.

The $2.5 billion would be available for six months and only for "direct losses" associated with the federal shutdown of air traffic on Tuesday. Flights resumed again Thursday.

"This is paying for that (federal) decision (to close air traffic)," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who helped piece together the bailout package.

A Continental spokesman declined to answer questions about Bethune's comments, including whether he meant that Houston's largest employer, with more than 20,000 workers here, would be forced to lay off employees. Bethune declined comment to the Houston Chronicle.

In a voice-mail message to employees Friday night, Bethune said Continental would have to cut its flying schedule to match the reduced demand for travel.

By Friday, most carriers had resumed flying, though at significantly reduced levels. Would-be travelers already had begun canceling flights.

In addition to fewer passengers in upcoming weeks and months, the airline industry also faces higher costs for new security measures.

The pilots union at Northwest Airlines said Friday that Northwest executives told them the carrier may face layoffs.

Estimates put industry revenue losses at $250 million or more each day that planes did not fly.

Lawmakers scrambled Friday to piece together the package, but were unable to do it fast enough to pass before adjourning for the weekend.

House leaders from both parties hoped to pass something before Wall Street opens for business Monday.

"If we don't solve the problem immediately, airline stocks could plummet," said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In a report Friday, airline analyst James Higgins of Credit Suisse First Boston, predicted airline stocks could drop in value by more than 50 percent when the market opens.

That came a day after Sam Buttrick, an airline analyst for UBS Warburg, estimated the airline industry could lose $4.4 billion this year, $2.1 billion from the terrorism.

He also said it was possible more than one airline could go bankrupt. Midway Airlines, a smaller carrier based in North Carolina, filed for bankruptcy in August. Wednesday, it stopped operating.

An initial agreement was to earmark $2.5 billion for the industry out of the $40 billion emergency spending bill Congress approved Friday -- money needed for military counterstrikes, to beef up intelligence-gathering capabilities and to provide recovery services to areas affected by the attacks. But Democratic leader Richard Gephardt forced changes in the House bill to require the money to come from a separate appropriation.

"As a free-market conservative, my first instinct is to let the market work this out," said Rep. John Culberson, a Houston Republican and member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

He echoed concerns shared by many lawmakers. But both parties and Culberson agreed that markets and air-travel consumers would be devastated if the nation's largest air carriers failed financially.

"This is not a bill to make up for past problems," said Rep. Roy Blunt, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees aviation. It's to protect an industry critical to the nation's way of life, he said.

Southwest Airlines, the dominant carrier out of Houston's Hobby Airport, is interested in some type of federal package, said Gary Kelly, executive vice president and chief financial officer. But it's not facing immediate bankruptcy or anticipating layoffs, he said.

Dallas-based Southwest has a strong balance sheet and a large amount of cash, said Kelly, cautioning that the airline cannot survive indefinitely without revenues.

"We are not in danger of imminent bankruptcy by any stretch of the imagination assuming we resume normal or somewhat normal operations relatively quickly," Kelly said.

He could not predict what passenger traffic would look like in coming weeks. While Southwest has had a lot of cancellations, the airline still has bookings for October.

Next week, Congress is expected to finalize details of the bailout, perhaps as part of a larger airline industry package that provides tax breaks to air carriers -- an exemption from the fuel tax and other tax breaks, including allowing airlines to keep the airline ticket tax.

The money is a prelude to major changes to the airline industry, as the government prepares to impose strict security measures.

Changes may include a complete takeover of baggage X-ray and passenger luggage searches by the military -- or some kind of trained security officers -- functions currently run by air carriers and carried out by civilian employees.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has introduced a bill to put sky marshals on flights. And lawmakers are looking for ways to better secure cockpits.

"Shutting down the airlines and our air traffic system would allow them to win, and we can't allow that to happen," Hutchison said of terrorists. But she added there must be major changes to make the system secure.


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Joined: Fri Jun 11, 1999 12:32 am

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 12:45 am

I had thought about this before...
At least some help is being given.
Bonjour Chef!
Posts: 1091
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2001 3:25 pm

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 12:58 am

I believe that this bill was just defeated by the House. If this is so...I not only have doubts about the survival of AA and UAL...but DL, NWA, US, and even CO...with many more...  Sad What do you think?
Topic Author
Posts: 541
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:39 am

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 12:58 am

Continental is cutting its schedule by 20%, and has just laid off 12,000 fine people.

Looks like the fallout is just beginning in the US airline industry.

Posts: 881
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 1999 5:16 am

RE: Railroads?

Sun Sep 16, 2001 2:28 am

This countries airways will be filled with nothing but foreign airlines, and other outside companies. As for CO letting go 20% of our workforce, maybe we will be ahead of the game?
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Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 1:44 pm

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 5:17 am

Guys, the the Big Six will be okay. The only one I would worry about is UAL Corp.
Alpha 1
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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2001 12:12 am

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 5:25 am

I've got a feeling the Bush Administration, after meeting with the execs of the airlines next week, will earmark this money for the airlines thorugh the emergency $40 billion bill that just passed. You've got a few idiots in congress who, for some stupid reason, just think the airlines can heal themselves with bookings dropping so drastically. A package will be put together, or all 10 major airlines will declare Chapter 11 before Thanksgiving.
Topic Author
Posts: 541
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:39 am

RE: US Airlines Receive $15B Aid Package

Sun Sep 16, 2001 5:54 am

Interesting times we live in. Events are moving faster than we can keep up with.

Saturday September 15, 4:30 pm Eastern Time

White House to hold crisis talks with airlines
(UPDATE: Updates throughout with details, reaction)

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - With airlines warning they face a financial crisis, the Bush administration said it would hold urgent talks next week with executives at carriers hard hit by Tuesday's hijack attacks, but stopped short of backing a multibillion-dollar plan to shore up their finances.


White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Saturday that President George W. Bush was ``concerned'' about the financial problems facing commercial carriers in the wake of the deadly attacks, which have undercut demand for air travel and could saddle airlines with the massive cost of tightening security.

In response, aides said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta planned to meet with airline executives early next week. An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mineta and the executives would discuss the industry's financial woes as well as ``a full range of options from which to act.''

Separately, James Hoffa, president of the largest union of transportation workers in North America, has requested a meeting with Bush to ``ensure the stability of the nation's air transportation system,'' the Teamsters said in a statement on Saturday.

The White House and Congress are under increasing pressure to aid airlines that have suffered losses due to airport closures and the fall-off in demand stemming from Tuesday's terror attacks and the weakened U.S. economy.


Earlier on Saturday, Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL - news), the nation's fifth largest carrier, said it would reduce its long-term flight schedule by about 20 percent and would be forced to lay off about 12,000 employees.

Northwest Airlines Corp. (NasdaqNM:NWAC - news), the world's fourth largest commercial carrier, later said it would cut its systemwide flight schedule by 20 percent by Oct. 1 and would also review its overall staffing needs.

Airline industry executives have told members of Congress they may lose $10 billion to $12 billion this year -- their biggest losses in history.

``The airlines were facing serious problems before these incidents and now they're facing problems not of their own making. So we're obviously pretty sympathetic to that and looking at it very closely,'' White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told Reuters.

Several top-ranking lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pressing for passage of legislation authorizing $2.5 billion in grants and $12.5 billion in loan guarantees to aid all U.S. airlines that have sustained losses, not just AMR Corp.'s (NYSE:AMR - news) American Airlines and UAL Corp.'s (NYSE:UAL - news) United Airlines, whose aircraft were hijacked in this week's attacks.

So far the White House has balked at endorsing the aid package, which supporters say would help mitigate the industry's losses and send a signal to financial markets reopening next week that Congress would try to cushion the economic effects of the devastating assaults.


Efforts early on Saturday to push the financial aid package through the Republican-controlled House failed. Some lawmakers objected to the timing of the initiative, so soon after the attacks that left thousands missing and hundreds confirmed dead in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

``Now before all the bodies are removed, all the dust is settled, all the fires extinguished, there are those lining up here at the Capitol door, at the public treasury, asking to receive some public subsidy,'' Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, complained.

An administration official stressed that the White House was actively looking at ways to aid the industry, but wanted more time to assess the financial state of individual carriers and to formulate an ``appropriate'' response.

``Let's take some time to talk to these (airline executives) and analyze it,'' an official said.

In addition to grants and loans, the administration is looking at proposed legislation that would limit lawsuits against United Airlines and American.

Sen. Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, has suggested that the federal government pay the claims of attack victims under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Copyright © 2001 Yahoo! Inc.

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