NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — American Airlines said on Tuesday it will lay off 19,000 workers on October 1, in addition to thousands more who left the company or agreed to voluntary furloughs, unless Congress offers more aid.
“Approximately 19,000 of our team members will be involuntarily furloughed or separated from the company on October 1,” American said in a regulatory filing, explaining the cuts are needed because flights have not recovered amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the company said the job losses could be curbed if Congress extends a program under the CARES Act rescue package that helped airlines retain their staff through the end of September.
US carriers have faced a sharp drop off in travel as the country struggles with the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, and American said it planned to fly less than 50 per cent of its fleet in the fourth quarter, while long-haul international service would be reduced to 25 per cent of its 2019 level.
The company last week eliminated service to 15 smaller destinations in the United States, and in a memo included in its filing on Tuesday said 12,500 people had already left the company, while another 11,000 have taken a leave of absence in October.
“In short, American’s team will have at least 40,000 fewer people working October 1 than we had when we entered this pandemic,” according to the document signed by Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom.
The company had in July warned 25,000 workers they could be furloughed beginning October 1.
The CARES Act was intended to blunt the blow from the coronavirus pandemic, however many of its key provisions supporting the unemployed and small businesses expired in recent weeks and COVID-19 has remained a threat to the world’s largest economy.
Lawmakers in Congress are deadlocked with the White House on extending key provisions of the act. American said there was support from both parties in Congress for additional aid to airlines but it was tied up in the larger relief bill.
“We must prepare for the possibility that our nation’s leadership will not be able to find a way to further support aviation professionals and the service we provide, especially to smaller communities,” American said in a statement.