(New throughout, adds details on American, other companies)
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - Major U.S. airlines
are pressing U.S. lawmakers for a six-month extension of the $32
billion U.S. payroll support program for airlines, airports and
contractors set to expire in September, warning that some
flights may disappear otherwise and more jobs are at risk.
Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly said
in a video message to employees the company backs the effort.
"Were in lockstep with our industry organization Airlines
For America ... in support of the labor unions' efforts,"
Kelly said in the video, which was viewed by Reuters. "I am
personally involved in delivering that message to our federal
Kelly also wants lawmakers to extend a ticket tax holiday
and pass other tax breaks that give Americans incentives to
travel "because without customers and places and events for them
to fly to -- we'll never punch our way out of this crisis."
Airline industry executives have privately told lawmakers
they may need to halt some flights because of depressed travel.
The payroll funding required them to maintain minimum service
levels through Sept. 30.
On Friday, American Airlines subsidiary PSA warned
that based on American's October schedule, it may need to
furlough another 230 pilots and flight attendants on top of the
1,000 potential furloughs announced this month.
This week, 223 U.S. House lawmakers called for a six-month
extension of the payroll aid program they called crucial to
keeping hundreds of thousands of aviation workers employed
through March 31.
Congress awarded $25 billion in payroll assistance to U.S.
passenger airlines in March, along with $4 billion for cargo
carriers and $3 billion for airport contractors. Most of the
bailout funds do not have to be paid back.
When the first package was approved, large U.S. airlines
hoped for demand to recover by October. But with a resurgent
pandemic, airline executives warn demand is stalling again.
Between American Airlines and United Airlines, more than
60,000 frontline workers have received warnings that their jobs
are on the line.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski
Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)