Another airline industry bailout?


Air travel is picking up, but it's nowhere near where it typically is this time of year. A pilot union says the government should pick up the tab for middle seats, to ensure social distancing.

Rice economics Professor John Diamond says that would be a bad idea.

"If you buy middle seats on airlines then why aren't we buying all restaurant tables at restaurants?"

Texas economist Ray Perryman says he'd be okay with an airlines loan deal, similar to the one for the auto industry.

"As long as you structure something in a reasonable way that says when things turn around the government gets the money back; I mean, literally, the government made money off of the one back in 2008."

Perryman says some sort of further help may be necessary.

"During the worst of this boardings were down 95%; they're still back to only a fraction of their former level and it's not sustainable to run the airplanes at these levels."

Diamond says he could go for a loan, but not a bailout.

"If it's set up as something you pay back, I could be on board. If it's set up as just the government's buying the middle seat and it's never going to see that money again, I think that's a step too far."

By the way, the distance between seats is not six feet, so blocking only the middle seats would not offer the proper social distancing.


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