WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump could take executive action to avoid massive layoffs at U.S. airlines, while the coronavirus pandemic weighs on air travel and talks on a new COVID-19 stimulus bill remain stalled in Congress, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday.
“We’re looking at other executive actions,” Meadows said in an online interview with Politico. “If Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems. So hopefully, we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed.”
Airline shares were lower in early trading .DJUSAR.
His remarks came a day after American Airlines (AAL.O) said its workforce will shrink by 40,000, including 19,000 involuntary cuts, in October without an extension of government aid.
Meadows said he has spoken to American Airlines, as well as United Airlines (UAL.O), which has warned that 36,000 jobs are on the line, and to Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), which announced furloughs of nearly 2,000 pilots on Monday.
“So we’ve raised this issue. It would take a CARES package, I believe, to do it,” Meadows said, referring to a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that Congress passed earlier this year.
Talks between Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer ended in early August, with top Democrats and the administration far apart on new legislation. Meadows told Politico that he is not optimistic that negotiations will restart soon.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell