American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said he remains optimistic that Congress will reach an agreement on an extension of the CARES Act stimulus package providing much-needed grants and loans to the beleaguered airline industry.

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: American Airlines flight prepares to land at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport

© Michael Valdez/iStock Unreleased
American Airlines flight prepares to land at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

This despite the fact an Oct. 1 deadline looms in a matter of days.

“There’s enormous bipartisan support for it. We have Republicans, Democrats, the administration all saying — knowing that this is the right program, that it makes sense, that indeed it should be extended because airline employees provide critical infrastructure,” Parker told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday. “We have everyone putting us in every bill they have, we just need the bills to be laws. We need laws, not bills. That’s what we’re going to do and I’m actually confident we can get it done.”

Airlines received more than $25 billion in aid in March with the original stimulus package, but it came with the restriction that domestic carriers could not cut pay or lay off workers for six months. The six months is up on Thursday, and tens of thousands of jobs in the industry are in peril.

Maybe more, Parker says.

Without the new round of stimulus, Parker warned that roughly 100,000 aviation workers being furloughed across the industry is still inevitable, according to Fox News.

“There’s certainly not much time left, but there’s enough time,” Parker said. “We just need them to come together and do what’s best for America and for our country and certainly for the airline business.”

Demand for air travel dropped to an all-time low of just 5 percent capacity in April compared to last year, meaning, literally, that flights that routinely carried 200 passengers were down to 10 travelers. There were some instances where just a single flier was on board.

That has since improved to about 25-30 percent of capacity, but at a rate not nearly quick enough to stem the enormous financial losses the airlines have suffered.

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