United CEO Doing His Own Lobbying in Washington

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby isn’t leaving anything to chance.

Kirby has taken on a new role as he has personally visited Washington D.C. to lobby congressional leaders to grant a second bailout for the airline industry, according to the aviation blog Live And Let’s Fly.

The blog was privy to a video message from Kirby to United, in which the new CEO lays out his plans. In it, Kirby said the only way to avoid layoffs in October will be if Congress passes, and the President signs, an extension of payroll support.

The airlines received a total of $25 billion in grants and loans in March as part of the first stimulus package to help combat the financial sting of the coronavirus pandemic.

“And what’s clear now is that the coronavirus crisis is still with us and is not going to end anytime soon. And so, the only way that we’re going to avoid the involuntary furloughs on October 1st, at this point, is an extension of the Payroll Support Program,” Kirby said.

But even if it doesn’t happen – and right now legislators are in a political stalemate – Kirby said United will remain viable.

“To be clear, United has taken the difficult steps to make sure that we can survive, regardless of what happens with legislation in Washington, D.C. We’ve raised $16 billion of capital. We’ve cut all of our expenses to the bone. But unfortunately, we’ve also been pretty accurate about what’s going to happen with demand. And we’ve been worried that the coronavirus was going to cause a larger dip in demand than a lot of others thought. That’s why we matched our schedule to demand and flew less than some others,” Kirby said in the video. “But it’s been, unfortunately, accurate that the coronavirus has had a bigger impact. And it’s increasingly clear now to us that we’re not going to get back to anything close to normal until a vaccine is not only available, but is effective, it’s manufactured, and it’s widely distributed to the entire population.

“We have positioned United to survive but what that means is, unfortunately, we’re going to have to be a much smaller airline during that. And that’s the reason we sent out 36,000 WARN notices. But there is a better answer.”

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