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In Five Weeks, Some 70,000 Airline Jobs Will Be at Risk

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 8/24/2020 Rich Thomaselli
American Airlines fleet team member loading baggage onto aircraft © American Airlines American Airlines fleet team member loading baggage onto aircraft

The date, unfortunately, has been circled on the calendar like a happy occasion – a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday, vacation, a wedding.

But Oct. 1 does not loom as a happy occasion. Not one bit.

That’s the day when U.S. airlines – which had to agree not to fire or furlough employees as part of the provisions of accepting grants and loans from the CARES Act in March – can begin laying off workers. And it’s possible that 70,000 jobs could be at risk on that date.

Passenger volumes are still down 71 percent compared to last year, and experts predict it is unlikely they will return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, according to Yahoo News.

Video: Flight attendant union president calls for airlines to put ‘workers first’ (TODAY)


That’s why virtually every aspect of the airline industry is heavily lobbying Congress to pass a second stimulus that would include payroll protection grants for carriers. No agreement has been reached as of yet.

"We expect demand will continue to be volatile and recovery will not be perfectly linear as customers' willingness to travel evolves and regions reopen for business, and as infection rates change over time," JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraghty said.

Over the past few months, airlines have attempted to avoid layoffs by implementing a variety of cost-cutting measures, including voluntary separations. Almost 20 percent of Delta Air Lines employees – more than 17,000 workers – have accepted early retirement offers and buyouts, and "thousands more" have agreed to take voluntary unpaid leaves.

“A difficult but necessary step towards Delta's transformation into a smaller, more nimble airline that will be better positioned to endure the crisis and recover quickly," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said.

"It is the best use of the public's money because it keeps our airlines intact – a vital service during this pandemic," Sara Nelson, both a current flight attendant and president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, said.


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