The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which looks after the interests of US maintenance workers, wants to make sure that any government assistance in the wake of the developing coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic is used correctly to protect jobs.

    It says the coronavirus outbreak has caused a rapid increase in airline passenger cancellations, while also producing a severe decline in future bookings.

    To date, most airlines have responded with capacity cuts and flight cancellations. The airlines have both collectively and individually expressed immense concern about the industry’s economic health to the US government, and requested a substantial financial assistance package to help navigate through this difficult time.

    The White House has indicated support, with president Trump vowing to “back the airlines 100 percent,” and the task of negotiating a package is now with the Legislative Branch.

    As Congress contemplates how to structure any potential bailout, AMFA’s legislative affairs team has been carefully monitoring the situation and providing input to both the House and the Senate.

    Its concerns, which have been communicated to Congress, involve how the airlines utilise any federal government funding coming their way.

    It believes that the focus of spending should be on maintaining the current workforce and ensuring that any negative impact on its members is as minimal as possible, rather than writing the airlines a blank cheque to use on potential stock buybacks or executive compensation packages.

    In this vein, AMFA proposed the following spending requirements on recipients of any federal credit:
    • Prohibition on using federal funds for the salaries, benefits, and severance packages of the airline industry executives;
    • Prohibition on federal credit recipients from using funds to purchase company shares in a corporate stock buyback;
    • Prohibition on federal credit recipients from using funds to pay shareholder dividends;
    • Priority to the employee, recipient of federal credit should be required to first pay the salaries and benefits of employees
    • Furloughed employees of federal credit recipients are to remain on employee health care;
    • Furloughed employees of federal credit recipients will have furloughed time count toward years of service for retirement; and
    • Prohibition on using federal credit for maintenance work performed at foreign-based maintenance repair and overhaul facilities.

    Although AMFA currently supports expeditious proceedings towards a financial package for the airline industry, it is withholding its support on the actual package until Congress has finished negotiating and it has carried out a thorough review.