Layoffs Loom For Beleaguered US Airline Industry
New York, Oct 1 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Oct, 2020 ) :Workers from the beleaguered US airline industry were making a last-ditch public appeal this week to coax more money from Capitol Hill power brokers to save their jobs.
American Airlines was the first to announce cuts, saying it will begin furloughing 19,000 workers from Thursday as US officials have failed to reach a deal on fresh aid to the pandemic-hit air travel sector.
A package of loans totaling up to $25 billion to seven US carriers announced Tuesday night by the Treasury Department provides funds for airlines to ride out a prolonged downturn amid the coronavirus, but won't affect plans for furloughs, airline sources said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday on CNBC he was hopeful airlines would postpone layoffs if congressional leaders can reach a framework for a deal, saying it was "critical" for Congress to act.
"I cannot afford to be jobless (for) over a year," wrote one flight attendant on Twitter, saying she was a single mother who spent 14 years as a flight attendant. "American families need relief too!" While the stalemate in Washington over stimulus has pinched unemployed workers and put public sector employees on notice, vulnerable airline workers have in some ways been the poster children for the impasse.
- Voluntary exit - Since the coronavirus intensified in March, US airlines have been grounding planes and delaying jet deliveries to limit their cash-burn as air travel remains at about only one-third of its level a year ago.
Carriers have struck agreements with unions to spread out work among employees. Tens of thousands of employees have also accepted unpaid leave or early retirement packages to avert the need for involuntary terminations.
Still, the decisions will not be enough to avert all job cuts. Airlines have said they do not expect a full recovery until a vaccine is widely available, which company executives have said may not be until late 2021.
Unions have said 100,000 people or more could be laid off without additional Federal aid, but analysts expect a smaller number than that as airlines and unions seek ways to avoid layoffs.
In the latest such deal, United Airlines on Monday reached an agreement with its pilots union to avert furloughs of 2,850 employees.
Southwest Airlines has said it does not plan involuntary job cuts.
Delta has said earlier voluntary staff departures and union agreements averted the need for involuntary job cuts for flight attendants and other frontline employees.
Peter McNally, an analyst at research firm Third Bridge, predicted there would be significant downsizing throughout the industry.
"The businesses cannot support the cost structure as it is," McNally said in an interview. "They worked around it through furloughs and early retirement and voluntary departures, but there are still going to be a lot of layoffs.
"The recovery has just not come as quickly as people had hoped," he said.