It's the end of the month and possibly the end of the line for tens of thousands of airline workers.
Airlines have vowed to drastically reduce their workforce at midnight Thursday as they face the end of a lifeline from Congress.
But in a bid to prevent that from happening, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin on Wednesday urged airlines to delay any furloughs set to go into effect October 1st if a bipartisan economic stimulus package was in sight.
Talks are set to continue between Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On Tuesday, she said she was hopeful a deal could be reached this week after the Democrats put a new $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal on the table. Republicans want a smaller package but Democrats have pushed for a far-reaching bill with more assistance for average Americans, as well as the struggling airline and restaurant industries.
A previous round of government assistance aimed at keeping airlines afloat during the early days of the health crisis, handed the industry some $25 billion back in March as part of the CARES Act. But that came with a stipulation preventing layoffs or furloughs through Wednesday.
Since that time, however, airline travel is still far from a recovery. Flying schedules are cut in half, passenger volumes still remain 68 percent lower than last year, and airlines are still bleeding billions of dollars a month.
To minimize the gap - seven airlines this week agreed to take government loans - Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and United Airlines.
But unlike the payroll assistance provided by the government earlier this year, these loans come without job-saving guarantees.
U.S. airline workers aren’t the only ones in jeopardy. Some 46 million airline jobs could be lost globally, according to an industry group estimate, as the health crisis wreaks havoc on airlines worldwide.