Shifting Gears: Who’s getting what in the multitrillion-dollar coronavirus bailout

Happy Friday and welcome to yet another quarantine-edition of Shifting Gears, Business Insider’s roundup of all the transportation news that you missed this week.

There is some good news, at least. (And don’t forget to sign up to get this directly to your inbox here).

The House of Representatives is set to vote — and likely pass — the largest federal assistance package ever. In addition to cash money to most Americans, the bill also contains some much needed assistance for airlines, Amtrak, and more. Here’s the breakdown.


Air carriers are set to get $60 billion from the stimulus, my colleague David Slotnick reports. About $25 billion of the loans and grants are guaranteed for passenger airlines and $4 billion to cargo carriers.

Then there’s another $29 billion in grants allotted for paying workers. The only catch? Job protection. Airlines accepting aid will not be allowed to lay off or furlough workers until September 30, at which point the crisis could be over or winding down for air carriers. Companies will also be prohibited from buying back shares of their own stock for a year after the loan is paid back.


A separate $17 billion in loans is specified for companies “critical to maintaining national security.” Boeing is reported to be the intended recipient of a large portion of that amount.


The National Railroad Passenger Corporation — which you probably know by its operating name, Amtrak, is set to get more than $1 billion from the bill. Like airlines, it’s the amount it said was needed in the face of plunging revenues and decimated ridership.

Long-distance routes are still running, but many others are facing reduced service and outright cancellations. Last week, ridership was down more than 90%.

Cruise lines

Cruise ships have become floating ghost towns as three of the largest lines cease sailings. Thanks to those massive fixed overhead costs, there are no gaping holes in the companies’ balance sheets — but they might not be able to tap into the loans available to American businesses.

The bill’s language says help is available for business that “are created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States and that have significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States.”

“Flags-of-convenience,” a move to skirt US regulations, might come back to hurt cruise lines looking for aid.

The Post Office

The US Postal Service will get some relief — but not near as much as some lawmakers had hoped for. In addition to $10 billion in loans (which can’t go toward paying off debt), the agency is allowed to establish temporary delivery points to minimize contact and help workers stay safe. They sound a lot like Amazon Lockers to us.

Uber and Lyft aren’t getting much

But they did praise language in the bill that offers assistance to the gig workers they’ve fought tooth-and-nail to not recognize (and pay for) as employees.

It’s the first time that self-employed workers will be eligible for unemployment benefits, my colleague Julie Bort reports. The total weekly amount depends on the state, but the bill adds $600 a week for people who qualify on top of those state amounts. You can read the details here.

“Thanks to the Senate for supporting 1.3M Uber drivers & delivery people,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter. “Many independent workers are on the frontlines; all deserve support. Hope the House will act on this bill & govt will join our push for new laws permitting cos like Uber to provide new benefits going fwd.”

As always, some lighter weekend reading: Please send me what you’re reading right now, be it in a magazine, a book, online. We all have nothing but time …

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