US airlines are nearing a new $17bn (£12.5bn) package to keep workers on the books as part of a $900bn stimulus scheme for the world’s largest economy.
A prior programme worth $25bn ran out at the end of September, forcing carriers to put tens of thousands of employees on unpaid leave.
The new deal would be enough to cover payroll costs for four months, meaning airlines should be able to bring back around 32,000 staff in total.
Aides said that a final deal on the relief bill could be reached today after months of wrangling.
At $900bn, any package would be far smaller than the $2 trillion deal initially sought by congressional Democrats.
Reuters reported that in order to be eligible for the support airlines would have to paid workers retroactively up to 1 December.
In addition, carriers will be asked to resume flying routes that they stopped operating after the initial funding package expired.
When it did so, giants American Airlines and United Airlines furloughed 19,000 and 13,000 employees respectively.
With the aviation downturn continuing, lobby group Airlines for America said that carriers were losing a combined $180m a day.
Passenger volumes remain down around 70 per cent in the US, with health concerns and travel restrictions due to the pandemic continuing to hammer the industry.