- 13,000 AA workers could be sent on unpaid leave as pandemic cripples air travel demand
- American Airlines furloughed around 19,000 employees in October 2020
- New international travel restrictions that require customers to have a negative COVID-19 test have dampened demand
American Airlines, the largest US air carrier, announced that almost 13,000 of its workers could be sent on unpaid leave after the second round of federal payroll aid for airline employees ends on April 1, if lockdowns keep planes grounded.
The furlough program will affect 4,245 flight attendants, 3,145 fleet service workers, 1,850 pilots, 1,420 maintenance workers, 1,205 passenger service personnel, 100 dispatchers, and 40 instructors.
Fort Worth-based airline furloughed around 19,000 workers when the previous round of US government assistance expired in October. They were recalled in December, after another $15 billion was provided for the industry through March.
“We are nearly five weeks into 2021, and unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation similar to much of 2020,” American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo to airline staff.
“The vaccine is not being distributed as quickly as any of us believed, and new restrictions on international travel that require customers to have a negative Covid-19 test have dampened demand,” the memo said.
The US government allocated the first financial assistance rollout of $25 billion last March to keep carriers from cutting employees through the fall. Aviation unions are reportedly pushing for new US payroll assistance of $15 billion to support the industry through the summer.
United Airlines sent similar furlough warnings to 14,000 of its workers last Friday. Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have managed to avert layoffs, however, mostly thanks to voluntary leave programs. Although American and United offered voluntary deals to reduce staffing last year, both companies were still forced to furlough workers.