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Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Congress' $50 billion rescue package for U.S. airlines will help keep the carriers alive — and their employees on the payroll amid the coronavirus crisis — until the end of September. After that, the outlook is grim.

What's happening: The airline industry is reeling, with air travel down as much as 95% since the coronavirus stopped Americans in their places in mid-March. Even as a hopeful President Trump begins to prepare for the reopening of the U.S. economy, it will likely be years before airlines bounce back to pre-crisis levels.

Look at what happened after 9/11, notes the Wall Street Journal.

  • U.S. airlines' domestic revenues didn't fully recover until 2004, three years after the terrorist attacks.
  • International flights, hurt by the SARS epidemic in 2003, lagged for almost another year.

Now, economists say we're in for a deep recession, far worse than 9/11 or 2008-2009.

Driving the news: Earlier this week 10 U.S. airlines agreed to terms with the U.S. Treasury to distribute $25 billion in payroll assistance as part of Congress' $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package.

  • Another $25 billion in government loans is available, and some, including American Airlines, intend to apply.
  • Taxpayers could wind up with small stakes in each of the airlines if the Treasury Department exercises equity warrants under terms of the deal.

The government lifeline comes with other strings, too: airlines must maintain service to all of the markets they served before the crisis, even though there are hardly any passengers.

United offered a sobering assessment this week in a letter to employees from CEO Oscar Munoz and President J. Scott Kirby.

What's next: When demand does start to improve, it likely will not bounce back quickly, they said.

  • Lingering health concerns mean people could still be afraid to fly.
  • Not all states and cities are expected to re-open at the same time, and some international travel restrictions will likely remain in place.
  • Large conferences and events will likely remain on hold for a while.

Go deeper

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Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

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Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.