Airlines, united

Airline CEOs and union heads gather outside the U.S. Capitol to make their best case for federal aid, together.

Airline CEOs and union leaders gathered in a joint event outside the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to plead for another $28 billion in federal aid for their industry, according to CNN.

“The group you see in front of you is keenly aware of the high stakes of this moment in time for our nation and our federal government,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, which will lay off 19,000 workers next week without more help. “We understand that the attention of Congress is trained on … determining a path forward for the seat on the court that is now vacant. But we all know that is far from the only challenge the country faces. We’re here today with a message of urgency.”

The CEO of the industry trade group Airlines for America, Nick Calio, insisted, “we have not missed the window” for federal aid, but aid must come if layoffs are to be avoided—layoffs that will cripple the airline industry indefinitely, forcing airlines to recertify pilots, mechanics and other workers to rehire them later. “You can’t just throw the keys at the pilot and say ‘Start the airplane.’ It takes a long time,” Calio told CNN.

“Hope is on the horizon,” said Eric Ferguson, president of the Allied Pilots Association union, “but we need more help to get over that horizon.”

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