LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ) — President Donald Trump is urging Congress to pass coronavirus aid for airlines and stimulus checks after calling off negotiations on a relief package via Twitter on Tuesday.
At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Wednesday, lines were virtually nonexistent as a small number of passengers checked in for their flights. Without some sort of federal aid, the airline industry faces months of economic pain.
Before the pandemic struck, Kaleef Morse flew in and out of BWI every month for work. Wednesday was his first flight back.
“If you look around and see all the workers who are not here doing their normal jobs, this airport is a hub for major airlines,” Morse said. “Southwest should be packed right now but nothing is going on right now, it’s empty.”
The empty airport speaks to the thousands of airline workers out of work because of the pandemic. Among them is Deija Green who used to clean planes.
As federal aid runs out, thousands of more airline workers face layoffs and the loss of their health insurance.
That’s worrying for Green.
“On top of the bills and everything that, I have to account for myself, my sister and my daughter,” she said.
In a flood of tweets Tuesday, Trump said he had “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.” He blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats for “not negotiating in good faith.”
…request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business. I have asked…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
Tuesday night, he wrote “The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act.”
If that legislation reached his desk, he pledged to sign it.
The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
Those statements drew backlash from airlines and even some Republicans, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who tweeted in part that “The American people can’t afford to wait until after the election.” Other Republicans said they would not have reached a deal with Democrats before the election anyway.
Washington’s failure to pass relief is already harming our nation's health and economic recovery. The American people can't afford to wait until after the election. There is no shortage of bipartisan and common-sense proposals. Put aside the politics and get this done.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) October 6, 2020
For some in the airline industry, desperation is setting in.
“It’s a shame peoples’ lives… people have to eat. What are they doing? What are they going to do to survive?” Morse wondered.
And a number of passengers remain undeterred, saying it’s still safe to take to the skies.
“As long as there is space on an airline, know that it’s safer than you may think,” a passenger named Chrissy said, “and if it’s time for you to fly, be confident in knowing that the airline is doing a great job to make it as safe as possible.”