American Airlines plans 19,000 furloughs, layoffs

airplane at sunset - American Airlines plans 19,000 furloughs, layoffsSept. 15, 2020 (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) American Airlines will furlough 17,500 employees and conduct 1,500 layoffs on the management side come Oct. 1, the carrier told employees.

“Today is the hardest message we have had to share so far – the announcement of involuntary staffing reductions effective Oct. 1,” said CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom in a letter to employees Tuesday morning.

The announcement that thousands of employees will be furloughed this fall is not a surprise, as American Airlines Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) notified staff in July that 25,000 employees could be furloughed when Payroll Support Program funding expires Sept. 30.

American did not indicate how particular regions could be affected. The airline in July announced a strategic partnership with JetBlue Airways Corp., as part of an effort to attract passengers in Boston and New York. The partnership allows customers to book a single itinerary on either airline’s website and to share loyalty benefits.

In Tuesday’s letter, American leadership said it’s still possible no furloughs would occur if the industry gets more government funding. Parker and Isom said airlines getting more money has bipartisan support.

“But, despite this broad bipartisan support, a PSP extension is tied up in a larger COVID-19 relief package, which our elected officials haven’t yet been able to negotiate,” Parker and Isom said in the letter. “So 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.”

Just last week, American said it wouldn’t service 15 small airports in October.

Here’s how various employees groups will be affected by the furloughs. The company said these figures are approximations:

  • 8,100 flight attendants
  • 3,000 wholly owned carrier employees
  • 2,225 employees in fleet service
  • 1,600 pilots
  • 1,275 in passenger service
  • 800 mechanics
  • 150 dispatchers
  • 12 flight crew training instructors and simulator pilot instructors

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