US president Donald Trump has signed a US government funding bill that sets aside a second tranche of pandemic-relief funds for US airline workers, according to a Trump administration spokesperson.

On 27 December, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted that Trump has signed “H.R. 133”, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Also on 27 December, Trump issued a statement saying he was signing the bill for reasons including the need to “return our airline workers back to work”.

Delta A350 Delta-1

Source: Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines Airbus A350

The legislation, according to a copy available from the US House Committee on Rules, sets aside $15 billion to US airlines for the purpose of paying employee wages and benefits.

The funds would come atop $25 billion in wage-assistance funds afforded to US passenger airlines under the US government’s initial pandemic relief law, passed in March.

The additional $15 billion will be available within 10 days, the text says. Carriers taking funds must agree not to lay off staff or reduce pay rates until 31 March 2021.

Airlines that furloughed staff after September – when the first round of funding expired – must recall workers before taking additional funds, the legislation says.

Trump had been expected to sign the relief law several days ago. But after receiving the bill he balked, instructing Congress to resume negotiations on a revised bill that would provide more money directly to US taxpayers.

Congress has so far been unable to agree on higher payouts.