An American Airlines Inc. McDonnell Douglas MD-82 plane sits parked at a gate while a United Continental Holdings plane taxis down the runway at LaGuardia Airport in the Queens borough of New York.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. airlines are seeking government assistance of more than $50 billion, including a mix of direct aid and loan guarantees, as the industry reels from the coronavirus outbreak, a lobbying group that represents 10 U.S. passenger and cargo airlines said Monday.

The aid, if received, would be the industry’s first bailout since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the largest ever. It is also the clearest sign yet of the financial damage coronavirus and the draconian measures governments are taking to stop it are having on American businesses.

Airlines for America, which represents carriers including Delta, United, American and Southwest, recommended passenger carriers immediately receive up to $25 billion in grants to compensate for reduced liquidity and in the medium term $25 billion in low- or zero-interest loans.

“In the short space of two weeks, U.S. airlines have seen their positions of strong financial health deteriorate remarkably rapidly,” Airlines for America said in an outline of its recommendations. “The downturn in demand for commercial air transportation related to COVID-19 is causing unprecedented harm to the U.S. airline industry.”

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