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Southwest Airlines pilots facing furlough push for congressional relief
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Airline pilots and other employees are watching congressional leaders' coronavirus relief talks with hope as legislation that includes $17 billion for struggling airlines inches closer to completion.
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Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told employees the company may have to enact furloughs for the first time in the airline's history because of the pandemic, much to the chagrin of the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association. But Kelly said this week that Southwest will not furlough employees if Congress passes a second round of Payroll Support Program (PSP) to help airlines get by for the next four months.
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"We know it’s going to be tough in the first couple of months of the new year, but that’s what PSP 2 does," Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association, told FOX Business. "We’re not asking the government to finance zombie companies to infinity. All we’re saying is if you can get us through to the springtime and then let airlines compete, so be it."
The airline industry praised the federal government's previous $25 billion coronavirus relief package, but after that money (and a furlough freeze) expired at the end of September, airlines furloughed tens of thousands of employees.