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American, Southwest airlines to receive billions in grants, loans to help cover employee salaries

The funds will also protect team members from involuntary furloughs or pay rate reductions through Sept. 20, 2020.
Credit: AP
In this Oct. 18, 2019, photo an American Airline plane flies in to Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City. American Airlines, Inc. reports financial earns on Thursday, Oct. 24. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Dallas-Fort Worth's two major airlines both announced Tuesday they expect to receive billions of dollars in support through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

American Airlines announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved $5.8 billion in payroll support created through the CARES Act.

American Airlines says the funds will aid in supporting team members’ salaries and benefits. The funds will also protect team members from involuntary furloughs or pay rate reductions through Sept. 20, 2020.

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said the approval of the Payroll Support Program is evidence that it’s important to sustain its front line employees. 

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“Those team members are our heroes, and we are elated that this program will enable us to continue to employ and pay our team while they fly through this period of depressed consumer demand," Parker said. 

The funds will come in two forms – a direct grant of $4.1 billion, and a low-interest rate loan of $1.7 billion. American Airlines says it expects to also apply for a $4.75 billion loan from the U.S. Treasury.

Also on Tuesday, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which has never involuntarily laid off or furloughed an employee in its nearly 50 years of flying, said it expects to receive $3.2 billion through the CARES Act, including $2.3 billion in direct payroll support.

During an industry forum Monday, Southwest President Tom Nealon said the company will "fight" to preserve its history of no furloughs or layoffs.

"We are very, very protective of that," Nealon said. "That's part of who we are."

The Dallas Business Journal's Evan Hoopfer contributed to this report.

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