PUNTA GORDA — The only airline providing service to Punta Gorda’s airport just had to furlough 100 pilots.
Allegiant Air said it has been "operating with daily losses that are unsustainable." The company said it had been waiting for Congress to pass another stimulus package to keep employees on the payroll. But last week, the airline couldn’t wait any longer.
Airlines like Allegiant have been pushing for another $25 billion from Congress. The CEO’s of several airlines even made the trip to the White House back on September 17th.
“We’re just here to plea with everyone involved to get to a COVID relief package," said Doug Parker, the C.E.O. of American Airlines during that visit.
But that relief package never came, and on October 1st, the support from the CARES Act expired. We reached out to Allegiant Airlines, and the company responded.
“Unfortunately, the arc of the virus is still having a negative impact on demand and, like other airlines, Allegiant was forced to furlough. However, we, along with our pilots’ union, remain hopeful that congressional leaders will provide additional support," said Sonya Padgett, with Allegiant media relations.
But that hope may have been dashed on Tuesday.
President Trump announced in a Tweet “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election.”
The sticking point is about the size of the relief package. Democrats want it to be $2.4 trillion, while Republicans want it to be $1.6 trillion.
“We came down a trillion dollars. We asked them to go up a trillion dollars. Instead they went down," said Nancy Pelosi in a press conference earlier this month.
But we also spoke with the pilot’s union, the Teamsters, which blames Allegiant for the furloughs.
"We had a verbal agreement in which we were going to extend the timeline in order to delay furloughs, but at the 11th hour the company reneged," said Andrew Robles, the Executive Council Chairman for Allegiant Air Pilot Group.
Allegiant said schedule changes are still being determined, but it said the furloughs will have a minimal impact for now. So if you already have a flight booked in Punta Gorda, it should stay on-schedule.