American Airlines has said that its workforce will shrink by 40,000, including 19,000 involuntary cuts, in October as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh on air travel, unless the US government extends aid for airline employee payrolls.
In March, US airlines received $25 billion in US government stimulus funds meant to cover payrolls and protect jobs through September. As the money runs out without a travel recovery in sight, airlines and unions have lobbied Washington for another $25 billion, but talks have stalled as Congress has struggled to reach agreement on a broader coronavirus assistance package.
In a memo to employees, American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker and president Robert Isom said that the first relief bill had assumed the virus would be under control and demand recovered by September 30.
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"That is obviously not the case," they said.
American's planned job cuts comprise 17,500 furloughs of union workers - including 1,600 pilots and 8,100 flight attendants - and 1,500 management positions.
They are below the 25,000 warning on possible job cuts American sent last month thanks to early retirements and leaves.
Based on current demand levels, American said that it now plans to fly less than 50% of its normal schedule in the fourth quarter, with international flying reduced to only a quarter of 2019 levels.
American said last week that it was suspending flights to 15 small US cities in October without more federal aid.