U.S. Treasury Nets $556.7 Million from Auction of Airline Warrants Acquired During COVID-19 Bailouts

These warrants were given to the government in exchange for COVID-19 assistance provided to the airlines.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Friday it received $556.7 million from auctions selling warrants in 11 major U.S. airlines.

These warrants were given to the government in exchange for COVID-19 assistance provided to the airlines.

This sum represents only a portion of the total assistance granted to the airlines. In 2020 and 2021, Congress approved $54 billion in COVID-19 bailouts for air carriers, requiring them to repay $14 billion of that amount.

In return, the Treasury received warrants to purchase stock at the prices prevailing when the aid was awarded.

These warrants are set to expire between April 2025 and June 2026.

The Treasury had initially set a revised minimum price of $458 million for these warrants.

A spokesperson indicated that the government plans to disclose the individual auction sale prices later this summer.

American Airlines received $12.6 billion in government aid, followed by Delta with $11.9 billion, United Airlines with $10.9 billion, and Southwest at $7.2 billion.

Smaller awards were given to seven other airlines, including $2.2 billion for Alaska Airlines.

Treasury established reserve prices of $221 million for Delta’s warrants, $159 million for United, $25 million for American Airlines, $30 million for SkyWest, $17 million for Alaska Air, $2.7 million for Hawaiian Airlines, $1.9 million for Frontier Group, and $1.7 million for Southwest.

The warrants for Allegiant, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue were each set at a minimum of $50,000, priced below the current trading prices of these carriers’ stocks.

Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines declined to comment, while other airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

The U.S. government also extended $25 billion in low-cost loans to the airlines.

The 2020 pandemic led to a significant collapse in air travel demand, with U.S. air passenger travel falling by 60%, the lowest since 1984.

This represented a drop of over 550 million passengers as airlines drastically cut costs and struggled to survive.