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U.S. House committee approves another $14 bln for pandemic-hit airlines

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By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson

Feb 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. House committee on Thursdayapproved a proposal to give airlines another $14 billion inpayroll assistance as part of a broader COVID-19 relief packagethat is working its way through Congress.

It would be the third round of support for the pandemic-hitindustry. American Airlines and United Airlineshave warned of some 27,000 furloughs without an extension of thecurrent package that expires on April 1.

The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee ona 29-24 vote approved the $14 billion for airlines and $1billion for contractors to cover payroll through September.

The funds will be included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19relief bill proposed by President Joe Biden, whose initial plandid not include new money for airlines. House Speaker NancyPelosi said on Thursday that she expects lawmakers to completelegislation based on the bill by the end of February.

American Airlines said in a statement after the committeevote that the payroll support program, which covers employeewages and bans job cuts, "has been a lifeline for our teammembers."

U.S. airlines are burning through millions of dollars everyday as the pandemic crushes travel demand.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union inthe world, said the funds "would help prevent the additionalfinancial devastation that would result from the aviationindustry being forced to furlough tens of thousands of workers."

Budget carriers Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Traveland Frontier Airlines, however, have said in recentweeks that they intend to resume pilot hiring later this year.

Reuters first reported many of the details of the plans toprovide new assistance to U.S. airlines, transit systems,airports and passenger railroad Amtrak.(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing byLeslie Adler)