After President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package into law on March 27, executives from the top passenger airlines like Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), and American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL) probably breathed sighs of relief. After all, the new law gave them $25 billion in bailout funds to help maintain payroll and another $25 billion in loans earmarked for the industry.
But three days later, they likely got nervous again, as the Treasury Department issued guidelines for companies that receive that money. In particular, a rule requiring recipients to maintain existing levels of service had some industry insiders worried that they’d have to continue operating expensive empty or near-empty flights to qualify.
Luckily, on March 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation weighed in with new guidelines, which ought to make the airlines — and their investors — relieved again (well, as much as possible