Federal Reserve officials expressed concern at their most recent meeting that the US economic recovery could falter if Congress fails to approve another round of pandemic relief.

Minutes of the meeting showed that officials believe the economy was growing faster than expected. But they based their forecasts on expectations that Democrats and Republicans would resolve their differences and provide more economic aid, including expanded unemployment benefits and help for small businesses.

The minutes said that “most forecasters were assuming that an additional pandemic-related fiscal package would be approved this year, and noted that, absent a new package, growth could decelerate at a faster-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter.”

The prospects for a new package being passed before the Nov. 3 elections, however, have significantly diminished with President Trump’s decision to end negotiations with Democrats. Trump has instead proposed that Democrats approve individual rescue items, such as money for ailing airlines and another round of $1,200 checks for most adults, rather than a comprehensive aid package.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell warned in a speech Tuesday of potentially tragic consequences if Congress and the White House do not provide further assistance, saying “the [economic] expansion is far from complete.”

The minutes covered the Fed’s Sept. 15-16 meeting, in which officials left their key policy rate unchanged at a record low near zero and signaled that they expected to keep rates at ultra-low levels at least through 2023.

The Fed’s statement incorporated a policy change to allow inflation to rise above its 2 percent target for a period of time. That change is seen as allowing it to keep interest rates lower for a longer period.

The September statement was approved on a 10-2 vote. The minutes recognized large problems in trying to forecast the path of the economy.

“Participants continued to

AirAsia Aircraft at Kuala Lumpur Airport Ahead of Earnings

Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

AirAsia X Bhd.’s restructuring plan was met with bleak forecasts and ratings from analysts as well as a 10% drop in its share price, underscoring the daunting challenges that lie ahead for the grounded carrier.

Public Investment Bank Bhd. maintained its underperform rating and 1 sen price target on the airline, the long-haul arm of AirAsia Group Bhd. Max Koh, an analyst at KAF Equities Sdn Bhd., kept his sell rating and 0.02 sen target, saying he was neutral on the restructuring proposals “given the grim outlook.” AirAsia X’s shares headed for their biggest loss since Aug. 3.

AirAsia, AirAsia X underperforming a gauge of Asia-Pacific airline stocks

The airline said Tuesday the plan, which it expects to complete by the end of next quarter, would wipe out almost 63.5 billion ringgit ($15.3 billion) in debt and save it from collapse as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on travel. The proposal requires approval from investors and creditors. Advance ticket payments will be converted into travel credits for customers.

AirAsia X said it hopes to begin operating with two aircraft in selected markets in the first quarter next year and gradually resume flights to all destinations by the end of 2021. The carrier said it would focus on flights within the five- to six-hour range and defer investment in new or immature routes.

Here’s what some analysts said about AirAsia X’s restructuring plan:

KAF’s Koh (Sell; target 0.02 sen)

  • This is a “hard reset” for AirAsia X to remain a going concern
  • Neutral on plans to operate with a leaner and lower cost structure and 500-million ringgit fundraising exercise as the airline will need approvals from creditors and shareholders to succeed
  • The aviation industry’s outlook is grim due to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Fresh equity injection from shareholders should accompany AirAsia X

As many as 50,000 airline workers could be furloughed starting Thursday morning after Congress failed to pass a last-minute deal to extend coronavirus relief aid to the embattled industry.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker confirmed late Wednesday that his airline would go ahead with 19,000 layoffs — or 14 percent of its pre-pandemic workforce — but said it would “reverse” them if an agreement were reached.

“Tomorrow, we will begin the difficult process of furloughing 19,000 of our hardworking and dedicated colleagues,” Parker wrote in a memo to staff members. “I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome. It is not what you all deserve.”

United Airlines confirmed that it will cut thousands of jobs, telling employees in a letter: “We regrettably are forced to move forward with the process of involuntarily furloughing about 13,000 of our United team members. We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs.”

At stake are the jobs of close to 50,000 pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, counter agents and other airline and airport personnel.

A provision of the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed in March, covered nearly 75 percent of airlines’ payroll expenses, with the stipulation that airlines not let any workers go until Oct. 1. The provision expires Wednesday night.

House Democrats have proposed an overall coronavirus relief package that would include an extension of the protections, but Senate Republicans have yet to agree. Substantial progress on the deal could not be made before the time limit, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business on Wednesday night.

Talks on the larger package will continue Thursday, he said, adding, “There’s money for airlines.”

However, those talks could come too late for many in the industry.

“Tomorrow, tens of thousands of essential aviation