American Airlines to get USD5.5B loan from US Treasury

NEW YORK (AFP) – American Airlines has agreed to a USD5.5 billion loan from the United States (US) Treasury as it aims to ride out the downturn caused by the coronavirus, the carrier announced on Friday.

The airline, which has said it could lay off as many as 19,000 employees next month without another relief package from Congress, said the financing will “help us shore up our longer-term liquidity until demand returns”, according to a message to employees.

The loan, authorised as part of the massive CARES Act federal relief package passed this spring, adds to American’s mounting debt level, which is higher than that of other leading US carriers. The Treasury Department told the carrier that the loan could be boosted to as much as USD7.5 billion, “although such amount is subject to final approval by the Treasury”, American said in a securities filing.

The CARES Act also provided USD25 billion in Payroll Support Programme (PSP) funds for US carriers, including USD5.8 billion to American.

US airlines that took PSP funds committed to not undertaking any involuntary job cuts through the end of September. American has said it could lay off 19,000 workers starting in October if there is not a new relief package.

Airline CEOs visited the White House on September 17 to lobby for such legislation, but talks in Congress have stalled amid intensifying partisanship ahead of the November Presidential election.

American Airlines jets at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. PHOTO: AP