NATIONWIDE — The coronavirus pandemic continued to take a toll on the U.S. airline industry Tuesday, as American Airlines announced it is preparing to cut 19,000 jobs when federal aid expires Oct. 1.
The news comes a day after Delta Air Lines said it will need to furlough nearly 2,000 pilots in October.
American will furlough about 17,500 flight attendants, pilots and other front-line workers due to the steep decline in air travel. Another 1,500 previously announced cuts to management staff will take effect in October.
“We have come to you many times throughout the pandemic, often with sobering updates on a world none of us could have imagined,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a letter to employees, according to multiple reports. “Today is the hardest message we have had to share – the announcement of involuntary staffing reductions effective Oct. 1.”
American will have 40,000 fewer employees than it did when the pandemic began, about a 30% reduction of its workforce.
The airline warned last month that up to 25,000 employees could have lost their jobs, if even temporarily. The final number was lower due to voluntary departures.
Carriers have been prohibited from laying off workers through Sept. 30 under the terms of the $25 billion federal aid package related to the coronavirus crisis. But the demand for air travel has only seen a modest uptick. American plans to fly less than half of its normal schedule in the fourth quarter of 2020, and long-haul international flights will be at 25% of 2019 levels.
Delta announced in an internal memo Monday that it will furlough 1,941 pilots in October.
“The voluntary measures (early retirement program) currently on the table just don’t move the needle enough,” John Laughter, senior vice president of flight operations at Delta, said in the memo, according to The New York Times.
Laughter said some or all of those jobs could be saved if Delta’s pilots union agrees to an across-the-board cut.
There is also hope of additional federal funding, which reportedly has bipartisan support. However, talks on a second coronavirus-related stimulus package collapsed earlier this month before lawmakers went on their summer break.
Stocks in American Airline were down 3.33% to $12.99 per share around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Delta’s stock was down 0.54% to $29.64.