MIAMI – Today, more than 32,000 American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) employees were placed on furlough. According to NPR, around half of the 13,432 employees involuntarily furloughed by UA were inflight services employees. 

Financial relief for airlines from the CARES Act ran out today, leading to the furloughs. The CARES Act prohibited airlines from furloughing any employees until today, October 1. Although negotiations for additional funding are ongoing, no agreement has been decided on. 

Despite cost cutting methods, AA and UA have had to resort to furloughs to stay afloat. After many reductions in service and aircraft retirements, thousands of staff became redundant. As reported earlier this week, United Airlines came to an agreement with the Airline Pilot’s Association to avoid the proposed furlough of around 3,000 UA Pilots. 

In an internal memo shared with NPR, UA said, “To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back.” Any reversal of the furloughs would need additional emergency funding for airlines from the U.S. government. 

United Airlines: Photo: Luke Ayers

The CARES Act 2.0

Members of the United States Congress are currently working on negotiating more emergency federal funding. Late last month, two Republican senators put forth a bill that would support airlines with US$29bn in additional relief. 

Congressional Democrats also released their own bill, including US$25bn for airlines and US$3bn for airline contractors to cover payroll until next spring.

Everyone at Airways will continue to keep all the furloughed employees in our thoughts as we continue to navigate through these difficult times.

Featured image: American Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo: Kochan Kleps