Airlines join banks in dishing out US$1,000 tax Bill bonuses

American Airlines Group and Southwest Airlines announced the bonuses after the close of business on Jan 2.
American Airlines Group and Southwest Airlines announced the bonuses after the close of business on Jan 2.PHOTO: AFP

DALLAS (BLOOMBERG) - Two US airlines - American and Southwest - joined the tide of companies offering employees US$1,000 (S$1,329) bonuses to mark the tax overhaul Congress put in place for 2018.

American Airlines Group and Southwest Airlines announced the bonuses after the close of business on Tuesday (Jan 2). AAON, US Bancorp, Commerce Bancshares and Zions Bancorporation were among the companies touting similar moves.

Banks, insurers and airlines have led the way on the handouts - all industries that have important regulatory issues pending with the Trump administration. The moves appear to be an effort to sway public opinion in favour of the unpopular tax Bill. Republican legislators pushed to pass the overhaul in December as President Donald Trump's crowning achievement of 2017.

"We applaud Congress and the President for taking this action to pass legislation, which will result in meaningful corporate income tax reform," Southwest chief executive officer Gary Kelly said in the company's statement.

Both carriers said they will make the payments to workers this quarter. The bonuses will total US$130 million for American, which does not currently pay cash federal taxes because of past financial losses.

"This is not an action we take lightly, when balanced against the returns our shareholders/owners demand and deserve," American CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom said in a message to workers. "But we believe it is the right thing to do for our team, which ultimately benefits our shareholders too."