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American Airlines planes parked at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Congress' massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package includes $58 billion for U.S. airlines, half in grants to cover 750,000 employees' paychecks, and the rest in loans or loan guarantees to help them keep operating during the worst travel downturn in history.

Why it matters: With some 80 million U.S. residents under mandatory stay-at-home orders and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread, hardly anyone is flying these days. But when the public health crisis ends, airlines want to be able to take off again quickly.

The big picture: The Treasury Department can demand stock warrants in exchange for the loans, which means U.S. taxpayers could wind up owning a chunk of America's best-known airlines.

  • Air cargo carriers get a chunk of the money, too — $4 billion in grants and $4 billion in loans.
  • Airports get $10 billion in grants and contractors like catering, ground crew and ticketing get $3 billion.

One of the most controversial recipients is Boeing, which, although not named, is believed to get up to $17 billion for loans and loan guarantees for "businesses critical to maintaining national security."

  • Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told Fox Business that his company would refuse government assistance if it came with equity strings attached.
  • The company could tap other funds in the package and be subject to the same limits on stock buybacks and executive pay as other large employers, without giving up a stake in the company.

In total, the stimulus package includes $114 billion for transportation.

Go deeper: United CEO: Coronavirus impact for airlines "much worse" than 9/11 aftermath

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.