American Airlines to cut 19,000 jobs in October

Greg Nash

American Airlines announced on Tuesday that it plans to cut 19,000 employees in October when the federal aid carriers received expires.

The airline will have approximately 40,000 fewer employees in October compared to March, when it employed over 140,000 people. On top of the expected 19,000 layoffs, about 12,500 employees have left the company voluntarily and about 11,000 more are expected to leave in October.

Airlines are prohibited from firing or laying off any employees until Oct. 1 under the terms of the pandemic relief funding the industry received from the government.

“We have come to you many times throughout the pandemic, often with sobering updates on a world none of us could have imagined. Today is the hardest message we have had to share so far – the announcement of involuntary staffing reductions effective Oct. 1,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote in a staff note on Tuesday.

Of the 27,000 flight attendants American Airlines employed before the pandemic, 2,700 have left, 4,500 will be on voluntary leave in October, and 8,100 will be on furlough, according to the airline.

Of the 15,000 pilots it employed pre-pandemic, 1,200 have left, 700 will be on voluntary leave in October, and 1,600 will be on furlough. 

American Airlines warned in July that it could slash up to 25,000 jobs in the fall.

Other airlines have also warned about layoffs come Oct. 1. 

Southwest Airlines told employees in July that passenger numbers need to triple by the end of the year to avoid layoffs and that as many as 36,000 employees could face furloughs. Spirit Airlines told employees in August that 9,000 workers, representing 30 percent of its workforce, could be laid off. 

Delta Air Lines has predicted it can avoid layoffs because 20 percent of the workforce — more than 17,000 employees — voluntarily agreed to retire amid the pandemic.

Tags American Airlines Coronavirus COVID-19 Delta Air Lines Pandemic southwest airlines Spirit Airlines U.S. airline industry

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