Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the U.S. government would take stakes in airline carriers in exchange for billions in direct grants to the companies, part of a $2 trillion economic rescue package, according to people familiar with the matter.
He detailed his plans during last-minute negotiations when the aid to airlines emerged as a major sticking point. Republicans had rejected providing cash grants to airlines, and an earlier version of the legislation would have provided $50 billion in loans and loan guarantees to passenger airlines and $8 billion to cargo airlines—but no direct aid.
Mr. Mnuchin has previously signaled that such a move was on the table, saying last week that equity stakes could be part of the eventual aid package. While it wasn’t clear what form the investment would take, one option is a warrant that converts into equity. A warrant gives the buyer the option to buy shares at a certain price.
A Treasury spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.