Doug Parker: Republicans have promised to take a hiatus from assessments and support airline subsidies in Biden’s stimulus bill.
Gary Leff at 14. March 2021.
American may be about to receive $1400 in Biden Bucks, but US commercial airlines are receiving $14 billion, including $3 billion for American Airlines. And according to the CEO of an American company who spent much of his time on Capitol Hill last year, Republicans were willing to retreat from their party ranks to secure the flow of subsidies to the aviation industry.
In fact, the Republican Party might not have sought to repeal these grants, as this would have caused some of its members to defect and created bipartisan support for some of the legislation.
CEO Doug Parker, who has spent all his time in Washington lobbying on the subsidy issue, mocked Republican opponents of the second airline bailout in the fall by saying that only a handful of really fiscally conservative Republicans refused to participate because they just don’t agree with the government doing anything resembling corporate finance.
Today, however, during an internal crew briefing – a recording of which was viewed by View From The Wing – he told pilots that Republicans are so supportive of the third airline bailout included in the $1.9 trillion American bailout bill that several Republicans told me last week that if anyone tried to hit the American bailout, I would vote with the Democrats.
He suggested that corporations would be very good lobbyists for the Republicans and unions would be very good lobbyists for the Democrats, and that when they work together, they are very strong. As he made a lap of honor, he said: Honestly, it was a lot of fun.
Knocking money out of taxpayers’ pockets and giving it to airline shareholders and creditors is so popular in Congress that a blanket law passed without a single Republican vote would have the support of Republicans just to protect corporate interests. Parker suggests that while Republicans would have been opposed to direct taxpayer checks and government bailouts, they would have crossed the aisle to support strict airline controls.
Parker acknowledges that only (mostly) pilots are salaried and need to be operational. Once we get over the pain of letting pilots go and bringing in pilots who are no longer mission ready at their current positions, it will take a long time to get back to the point where we are truly ready for the holidays.
Even that is incredibly misleading. American restored the active status of only 11 of the laid-off pilots, which is the first round of wage subsidies. The other 1,500 were paid not to work. And not even the 11 were flying, as far as I understood. We don’t even know if they’ve started training yet. Some 350 pilots are expected to be fit to fly again by early April – but that doesn’t mean they will be on January 1. April to get their fingerprints. Wage supplements don’t really keep pilots active and willing.
Parker even acknowledged that these subsidies are cash for the airline, saying that in addition to the $14 billion in cash we already have with this SPP3, which provides about $3 billion in additional cash for American Airlines, it certainly helps. In the end, it’s all about money for shareholders and creditors, with the workers being just a fig leaf.
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