Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines' CEO Scott Kirby and union leaders asked Congress and the White House in a letter on Friday to restart talks on coronavirus aid, warning that United may be forced to furlough as many as 16,000 employees starting Oct. 1 if the current aid package is not extended.

The state of play: The federal government's payroll support program for airlines is set to expire on Sept. 30. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in a meeting with airline executives on Thursday said President Trump would support a $25 billion extension to Congress' current aid package.

  • But Congress has failed in recent weeks to pass further coronavirus stimulus, including a standstill on the latest bill.

The big picture: Social distancing and quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic have decimated the air travel industry. U.S. passenger volumes are running 65% behind this point last year, according to Airlines for America.

  • But airlines are desperately trying to win customers back, Axios' Joann Muller notes, including strictly enforcing mask wearing on flights and eliminating some fees.

What they're saying: "The aviation industry is a critical driver of the larger economy, moving people and goods for business and pleasure; connecting communities of all sizes to the world and supporting good-paying professional careers for hundreds of thousands of Americans," the letter, obtained by Politico, reads.

  • "The sooner Congress and the Administration can come together again and reach an agreement, the better United and the entire industry’s chances of keeping employees and returning the economic benefits we provide for the larger economy."

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate to vote on GOP stimulus measures next week

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate will hold two votes next week on a Payroll Protection Program bill and $500 billion coronavirus relief package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday.

Why it matters: Hopes for a broader stimulus deal before November's election are fading as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary remain deadlocked in negotiations on a potential package that McConnell has said his caucus has no appetite for.

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.