American Airlines will be clipping the wings of thousands of employees. The airline announced Tuesday it will cut more than 19,000 jobs through furloughs and layoffs, according to USA TODAY. Overall, American Airlines began this year with 140,000 employees, and it expects to have 40,000 less employees in October.
So far, 23,500 employees have accepted buyouts, retired early or taken leave of absences, but it didn’t save the company enough to stop these layoffs.
The company has struggled in a downturn caused by the pandemic. In April, airlines lost 95 percent of their usual business in the wake of the coronavirus. While air traffic numbers have improved, they’re 70 percent less than it was a year ago.
“We have come to you many times throughout the pandemic, often with sobering updates on a world none of us could have imagined,” wrote American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and its president, Robert Isom, in a staff note. “Today is the hardest message we have had to share so far – the announcement of involuntary staffing reductions effective Oct. 1.”
American Airlines said more federal aid is needed to avoid layoffs.
Flight attendances will be among the hardest hit. The company will terminate 8,100 flight attendant positions in October. The company also plans to scale back its number of pilots and mechanics and cut 1,500 administration and management jobs, according to CNBC.
“Today is a devastating day for the hardworking, frontline employees at American Airlines,” Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, told Fox 13 News.
In March, the airline industry received $25 billion in federal aid, with American receiving $5.8 billion. The company told USA TODAY an extension of this payroll protection plan is need to avoid layoffs.
American Airlines isn’t the only airlines considering layoffs. Delta Air Lines announced it will furlough 1,941 pilots in October unless it can cut down on costs, according to Reuters. Likewise, United Airlines warned in July that 36,000 employees could lose their jobs in October.