American Airlines, Southwest brace employees for furloughs

Posted at 8:59 AM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 11:59:13-04

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, the two largest airlines at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, are bracing employees for potential furloughs.

The surge in Covid-19 cases across the country has dampened optimism the industry was feeling in June as people were starting to get back on planes. Airlines are now coming to grips with the fact they have too many employees for the number of passengers they expect to carry for the foreseeable future.

Captain Jason Goldberg, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association union which represents American pilots, said some pilots are receiving Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notices this week.

The WARN Act requires businesses to notify employees about factory closures or mass layoffs. This doesn't mean American employees who receive notices are furloughed, it just keeps the option open for American to furlough employees if it later decides to.

A spokesperson for Fort Worth-based American Airlines declined to comment.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told employees this week if the airline doesn't triple passenger counts, it will look at involuntary furloughs and layoffs — something the Dallas-based carrier has never done in its nearly 50 years of flying.

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