U.S. airlines closing in on new aid package

A further injection of $17 billion in support could be winging its way to U.S. airlines.

Congressional aides told Reuters that the package would help fund payroll costs, and would be a four-month extension of a government assistance programme.

A roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, expected imminently, would allocate the funds to airlines and allow them to bring back more than 32,000 workers who were furloughed in October.

Under the deal, aides said airlines would have to resume flying to some routes they stopped operating after the last package expired.

In October, American Airlines furloughed 19,000 employees while United Airlines furloughed more than 13,000 employees.

American Airlines suspended flights to some smaller U.S. airports.

Earlier this month the number of passengers screened at U.S. airports dipped to just over 500,000 - the lowest number since July as COVID-19 cases spiked.

The new assistance program is expected to mirror the earlier $25 billion program approved by Congress in March.

It required larger airlines to repay 30% of the payroll grants over time and offer the government warrants.

U.S. carriers are losing $180 million in cash daily, with passenger volumes down as much as 70% and cancellations rising.