News Releases

Murray to Offer Alternative Airline & Worker Assistance Package

Mar 29 2003

Amendment to 2003 supplemental would provide greater relief to airlines than GOP proposal while expanding assistance for unemployed industry workers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee is preparing an alternative airline relief package that would provide airlines with substantially greater relief than the package proposed by GOP Senators. The alternative will also provide expanded relief for thousands of laid-off airline industry workers. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will offer her plan as an amendment to the 2003 Supplemental Appropriations bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up on Tuesday.

The September 11th terrorist attacks, the slowdown in the economy, and the recent initiation of the Iraq War has caused air travel and the financial stability of airlines to decline steadily, as evidenced by the bankruptcies of three of the top 12 U.S. carriers. More of these airlines have signaled that they may be required to enter bankruptcy in a few weeks time.

While the Republican relief plan focuses on extending war insurance, providing a temporary suspension of security fees, and reimbursing security costs for the airlines, Murray's bill would acknowledge the tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off through no fault of their own, while providing a greater level of direct relief to the airlines sooner.

Sen. Murray's bill would:

- Provide relief from the passenger and carrier security fees mandated in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act for a longer period than under the GOP plan. Airlines presently collect a security fee of $2.50 per person, per segment and must also pay a federal carrier fee. Both would be suspended under Sen. Murray's plan.

- Provide expanded relief for workers in the airline and related industries who have been laid off as a result of the continuing downturn in airline travel. According to the Air Transport Association, ten thousand airline jobs have been cut in the first week of the Iraq war.

- Provide compensation to airports for their added security costs in infrastructure, capital upgrades, perimeter security, and space now being occupied by federal Transportation Security Administration workers. Direct relief to airports would enable those airports to avoid passing along increased costs to the already-strapped airlines.

Murray said, "our airlines, our airports and especially our airline industry workers have suffered from the triple-whammy of September 11th, the struggling economy, and now the War in Iraq. The GOP relief plan does not do enough to quickly get cash back into the hands of the airlines so that they can stave off bankruptcy or liquidation. Worse still, it ignores those who have suffered the most, our unemployed aviation industry workers."

Murray continued, "these challenging times require aggressive action by Congress and the Administration if we are to avoid the complete collapse of our aviation industry. My amendment will address the airlines' near-term revenue crises by getting more dollars into their hands more quickly than under the GOP plan. My amendment will also provide relief to the ever-expanding number of aviation industry workers that are finding themselves out of work."

Murray's plan has not yet been scored by CBO. But sources knowledgeable with the package said the cost would be considerably higher than the $2.8 billion GOP proposal.