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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

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

4 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. on Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest hours later, per AP.