Responding to a bipartisan letter signed by 16 US Senators, President Donald Trump told the media that he was supportive of extending the payroll support programme available to airlines beyond September 30, 2020.

"We don’t want to lose our airlines. If they’re looking at that, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, I’d certainly be in favour," Trump said.

The letter, addressed to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was spearheaded by Colorado's Republican Senator Cory Gardner.

The current payroll support programme, passed under the COVID-related CARES Act, earmarks USD32 billion for job protection in the aviation industry. The majority of the funding, USD25 billion, is earmarked for passenger airlines. Carriers which receive the support are not allowed to involuntarily furlough employees through September 30 in return for the state assistance in financing their salaries.

However, most of the large American carriers have already warned that they would commence involuntary lay-offs in October, as the current level of demand and capacity could not justify preserving all jobs from the pre-COVID era. Fearing widespread furloughs, the unions - but also multiple airlines themselves, wary of losing employees ahead of a potential rebound in 2021 - have called to extend the programme through March 2021.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has called the payroll support programme one of the most successful elements of the US economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Various US airlines have sent thousands of WARN Act notices to staff, indicating that they might be seeking to furlough over 75,000 employees come October.