Washington (March 17, 2020) – U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) called for basic consumer and worker protections in any coronavirus financial assistance for the airline and cruise industries.
In the letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today, Blumenthal, Markey, Whitehouse, and Baldwin outlined a list of ten requirements that should be met before issuing federal aid to the airline and cruise industries.
“While we agree that financial assistance may be necessary for some of our industries most impacted by the ongoing pandemic, we strongly believe that any such legislation must include conditions that will protect both consumers and workers in the travel industry,” the Senators wrote.
A copy of the letter can he found HERE.
The letter reiterated examples of anti-consumer behavior in the aviation industry, and urged against cutting a blank check that doesn’t protect workers and consumers.
“We cannot permit the airline industry to obtain federal assistance to weather the coronavirus and then return to these predatory business practices after the crisis. We must also avoid repeating the mistakes of the airline bailout that Congress enacted after the September 11th attacks, through which we provided cash, loans, and insurance to help the industry without offering sufficient protections to employees. As a result, the bailed out carriers paid shareholders but not front-line workers, and employees were forced to concede billions of dollars in wage and retirement concessions after many airlines ultimately declared bankruptcy.”
Markey, Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and Baldwin also demanded an assurance that the cruise line industry implement basic health and safety practices in its regular operations ahead of any federal assistance.
“A unique and complex set of international rules governs the operations of the ship and the health and safety of passengers. Unfortunately, these rules seem to be designed to protect the cruise ship industry from any kind of liability, rather than to protect the health and safety of passengers. Incident after incident has proven the existing framework is insufficient and there remains more work to be done to protect passengers. We cannot permit the cruise line industry to obtain federal assistance to overcome the coronavirus until – at the very least – the industry adopts necessary medical and safety standards.”