July 2, 2020 / 1:06 PM / a month ago

U.S. Treasury agrees on loan terms with American, four other airlines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury said on Thursday it has agreed on terms for government loans with five U.S. carriers, including American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O).

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 jet sits at a gate at Washington's Reagan National airport with the U.S. Capitol building in the background as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to keep airline travel at minimal levels and the U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, in Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The Treasury said it had signed letters of intent with American, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines (HA.O), SkyWest Airlines (SKYW.O), and Spirit Airlines (SAVE.N) under a $25 billion emergency loan program created by Congress in March.

American said on Thursday it expects to close on a $4.75 billion Treasury loan in the third quarter on top of $5.8 billion in payroll assistance it was previously awarded.

American Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom warned employees on Thursday that it may face significant overstaffing as it tries to win voluntary departures.

“We currently anticipate having 20 to 30% — or more than 20,000 — more team members on payroll than we need to operate our schedule this fall,” they wrote in an employee memo. “To be clear, this doesn’t mean 20,000 of our team members will be furloughed in October, it simply means we still have work to do to right-size our team for the airline we will operate.”

Treasury separately awarded airlines $25 billion in payroll assistance bailouts with most of the aid in the form of grants that does not need to be repaid.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that “conversations with other airlines continue, and we look forward to finalizing agreements as soon as possible.” Airlines have until Sept. 30 to decide whether to take the loan.

Like the payroll assistance funds, the loans come with a ban on stock buybacks and paying dividends and set limits on executive compensation.

Hawaiian Airlines, which was awarded $292 million in payroll assistance, had sought an additional $364 million Treasury loan.

Spirit was awarded $335 million in payroll assistance and said it was eligible for $741 million in Treasury loans. SkyWest received $438 million in payroll assistance.

Airlines have warned that a recent spike in U.S. coronavirus cases could dampen travel demand that is still off around 75% from last year but has rebounded significantly over April lows.

Airlines can furlough or eliminate jobs starting Oct. 1.

Last week, six U.S. aviation unions told lawmakers another $32 billion in payroll aid is needed to keep hundreds of thousands of workers employed through March 31.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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