Two of United States’ Largest Airlines to Furlough Tens of Thousands of Employees
Two major airlines that fly in and out of the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids have announced plans to furlough 32,000 people.
In an airline industry where passenger counts are down 70 percent from a year ago, according to Dakota News, both United Airlines and American Airlines announced plans to make temporary cuts this morning.
American Airlines says they're furloughing 19,000 employees while United Airlines says 13,000 of their workers will be temporarily laid off. However, both companies say quick action on relief help by Washington lawmakers could reverse their decisions. If action isn't taken, more Americans in the airline industry could lose their jobs.
The two airlines made the decisions after lawmakers in Washington didn't come to an agreement on a new coronavirus relief package that would've included help for airlines. The current relief package for airlines ends today.
However, Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines, says it's not too late for the layoffs, which are beginning today, to be reversed. He says that if $25 billion in additional relief is provided for airlines, through next March, the layoffs wouldn't be necessary. He says the relief has to happen "over the next few days" to allow the reversal of layoffs.
Despite many airline trade groups believing the slowdown in air travel could last up to four years, Sara Nelson believes a bailout is the right move. She's the president of the Association of Flight Attendants and says an airline bailout would cost the government less money than unemployment.
Seven airlines, including American and United, completed loans with the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this week. Each is expected to borrow more than $5 billion.
America's two other largest airlines, Southwest and Delta, don't plan to lay off anyone right now. The two companies have trimmed staff through voluntary departures during the pandemic.