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Over a third of American Airlines workers to go on voluntary leave or retire

Over a third of American Airlines workers to go on voluntary leave or retire

The COVID-19 epidemic has sent the airline industry into a nosedive and now over 13,000 of American Airlines employees are being forced to take retire or voluntary leave or retire in April and May.

In a move that will help the company to deal with an excess of workers during the coronavirus crisis, American Airlines is offering voluntary leave to 4,800 pilots, while another 715 will be given early retirement with partial pay and full benefits.

The figures include 1,500 pilots who were granted voluntary leave for April and were announced to employees last week. The numbers were disclosed in a letter to pilots from American late Thursday night.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said about 7,960 members signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement. Both leave and retirement would start in May.

Pilots ages 62 to 65 were eligible for the early retirement package. Federal Aviation Administration rules mandate that pilots are not allowed to work for commercial airlines past age 65. American had 13,800 pilots as of January.

The large number of pilots putting hands up to take leave should help the company as it dramatically scales back its flying schedule for May and June. Pilots were offered one-, three- and six-month voluntary leave options, but the company didn’t say how many would take each duration.

In a similar move, Delta Air Lines also announces that 35,000 of its employees have volunteered for some sort of leave.