PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One-thousand local American Airlines workers have been furloughed. The airline says the money given to the airline by the federal government to avoid layoffs has run out.
American Airlines is a huge employer at Philadelphia International Airport, and without action from Congress, officials say roughly 1,000 of their 10,000 Philly-based employees will remain furloughed.
American and United move ahead with plans to furlough more than 32,000 workers nationwide starting today, including more than 1000 at @PHLAirport. What airline executives say needs to happen to bring those employees back to work, next on @CBSPhilly. pic.twitter.com/20teMtT2ov
— Jan Carabeo (@JanCarabeoCBS3) October 1, 2020
The crippled airline industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to employees, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says today begins the difficult process of furloughing workers nationwide.
“Look, the last thing we want to do is furlough employees,” Parker said.
But without another COVID-19 relief package from the federal government, Parker says it’s necessary.
In March, the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act gave airlines $25 billion to hold off on job cuts through September.
The deadline to extend that program came and went at midnight.
Airline executives say they can bring employees back if Congress approves an extra $25 billion in grants to carriers.
“My message to Congress is, that we are real people. We are aviation’s first responders and frontline workers and our livelihood and our health care is literally in their hands,” United Airlines flight attendant Kacy Lunceford said.
“I’m really encouraged by the fact that it sounds like they’re making real progress,” Parker said. “That is absolutely the right path for airlines and I think actually for our country.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are reportedly advancing on a stimulus deal, but no timeline is set.
In the meantime, American Airlines is moving ahead with its plan to furlough 19,000 workers across the country. United Airlines officials say they’re considering about 12,000 cuts.
Hannah Starner, who is based out of Philly, is just one of the hundreds of local American Airlines flight attendants expected to be furloughed.
“We’re just going to be back out here when they recall us. I’ll be waiting. Eventually demand will return and my colleagues and I will be here,” Starner said.
The majority of local employees to be furloughed are flight attendants.