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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Airline bailouts benefit shareholders. Why not bail out people?

A Los Angeles International Airport worker stands near an empty TSA line in Terminal 7 on Saturday.
A Los Angeles International Airport worker stands near an empty TSA line in Terminal 7 on Saturday.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The airline industry’s trade group is calling on the federal government to provide about $58 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks. Other industries are sure to follow; they will say they need the money to preserve jobs, maintain vital infrastructure and stimulate the economy.

These are all myths intended to obscure the fact that bailouts benefit some of the richest people in America.

The first myth is that bailouts preserve jobs. Airlines will continue to cancel flights, idle planes and furlough employees as long as demand for their services continues to fall. Bailout money will go to the bottom line.

The second myth is that bailouts protect infrastructure. Our air transportation infrastructure is endangered neither by the coronavirus nor airline bankruptcy, which wipes out current shareholders and allows a company to be reorganized. As travel demand recovers, the infrastructure will be put back to work. Only the shareholders benefit from a bailout.

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The third myth is that bailouts stimulate the economy. Corporate bailouts will be used primarily to preserve the assets of shareholders, not to stimulate consumption spending. To stimulate the economy, bail out people, not corporations.

Michael M. Murphy, La Cañada Flintridge

The writer is a visiting professor of business and economics at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan.

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To the editor: If the airlines want a bailout, here are the terms we taxpayers are laying out:

You have nickeled and dimed passengers for years, adding tremendously to your bottom line. Therefore, for the next five years, beginning with this bailout, you will not be allowed to charge for checked baggage, pillows or blankets.

Thank you for listening. The deadline for replying is March 20.

Bernadine Bednarz, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Up until the coronavirus crisis began, the airlines seeking a massive bailout from the federal government were together making billions of dollars in profit. Why would the government rush to bail these companies out with taxpayer money?

These airlines should first use the huge profits they’ve made to pay their idled employees during the coming months when the demand is reduced for airline travel.

Any financial support that our government decides to give these companies should be in the form of loans made with a scheduled plan for repayment and should include government oversight and supervision of how the money will be used.

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Carol J. Smith, Cerritos


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