American Airlines CEO Tells Employees to Brace for Furlough Warnings

February 1, 2021 Updated: February 1, 2021

American Airlines workers should brace for another round of furlough warnings in the near term as the airline expects to remain overstaffed on April 1, when U.S. aid for industry workers expires, Chief Executive Doug Parker said.

American is among U.S. airlines that received a $15 billion payroll support package in December to protect workers’ jobs and salaries through March, when the industry had hoped that pandemic-hit demand would have recovered with vaccine rollouts.

“What hasn’t happen is what we’d hoped would happen, that we’d get to April 1 and say oh my God … everybody we have we’re going to need them in the July schedule,” Parker said during a Jan. 28 employee town hall meeting, according to a recording reviewed by Reuters.

An American spokesman confirmed the veracity of the recording.

U.S. aviation unions are urging Congress to extend a third round of payroll assistance, something Parker said he would support and also fight for.

“That’s a much better solution than having people furloughed again when we know that this (COVID-19) is months away from being eradicated,” he said during the town hall.

American furloughed 19,000 workers when a first round of government payroll support expired on Oct. 1 but recalled them in December. Parker said he hoped fewer workers would be impacted this time round.

Last week, United Airlines said it had sent furlough warnings to some 14,000 employees.

By Tracy Rucinski