American Airlines said on Tuesday it would eliminate 19,000 employees by October 1, as it struggles to recover from the steep drop in travel created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Flight attendants will face the most cuts, with the airline cutting some 8,100 jobs, American said in a regulatory filing. About 1,600 pilots will lose their jobs.
The cuts won’t be equal in all areas, according to the filing. For example, “since international flights are smaller than domestic service, groups with more staffed to international service may see a greater impact,” the airline said on the record.
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The latest executive leaves and layoffs announced on Tuesday come in addition to 23,500 employees who accepted buybacks, took early retirement or took long-term leave earlier this year.
“We’ve worked to mitigate as many unintended reductions as possible through voluntary programs,” American said. “Across the major and regional carriers, more than 12,500 of our colleagues have made the difficult decision to leave the company permanently through early departure or retirement programs. Another 11,000 members of the team have offered to take time off in October.
Yet, according to American, unless there is an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) – emergency aid issued by the federal government to help carriers cover personnel costs – then jobs will be removed, forcing the carrier to enter October with at least 40,000 fewer people than when the pandemic struck.
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U.S. air travel plunged 95% in April, weeks after the first major coronavirus outbreaks in the United States. Passenger traffic has recovered slightly since then, but remains down 70% from a year ago, and carriers say they need fewer workers.
In March, passenger airlines received $ 25 billion from the government to save jobs for six months, and American was the biggest recipient, at $ 5.8 billion. The money, and the accompanying holiday ban, expire after Sept. 30, though airlines and their unions lobby Congress for an additional $ 25 billion and a six-month reprieve on cuts jobs.
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“The overwhelming majority of members of the United States House and Senate appreciate that saving jobs in the airline industry during this crisis will translate into a faster economic recovery in the months and years to come.” American said. “And that preserving these essential service jobs will also mean continuous commercial air service to all communities, large and small. ”
Despite broad bipartisan support, however, American claimed that a possible extension of the PSP was “tied to a broader relief program for COVID-19, which our elected officials have not yet been able to negotiate.”
American did not immediately respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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