PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Without action from Congress before Oct. 1, American Airlines executives say they will be forced to furlough about 1,000 of their 10,000 Philadelphia-based employees come Wednesday.
The vast majority of local workers to be furloughed are flight attendants like Hannah Starner, who started her dream job just six months ago.
“I love interacting with people, connecting with people,” she said. “It’s amazing the passengers that we have been flying with.”
On Tuesday, American Airlines executives, along with union leaders representing flight attendants, pilots and other workers, came together at the Philadelphia International Airport to urge Congress to extend the Payroll Support Program.
PSP was part of the CARES Act passed in March and provided $25 billion to the struggling airline industry to keep employees on the payroll through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thought that by September the airline industry would be back, right? We thought that back in March. But clearly, this is not abated yet, we are still facing a time,” said Jim Moses, vice president of Northeast hubs and gateways for American Airlines.
Without a new COVID-19 relief bill, 19,000 American Airlines workers nationwide are set to be furloughed or laid off.
“We’re going through a situation where we’re now going to be eliminating service to many of our smaller communities. That is going to have a direct impact on our ability to help the economy recover,” Moses said.
Both Moses and Starner are holding out hope for an eleventh-hour deal.
“We’re just going to be back out here when they recall us. I’ll be waiting,” Starner said. “Eventually, demand will return and my colleagues and I will be here, but hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”
There is bipartisan support to continue to help the airline industry, but there is also disagreement over what else should be included in a new coronavirus relief bill, which is stalling action on the extension.