In one week, on Thursday, Oct. 1, the airline industry is prepared to lay off tens of thousands of workers across the country if the federal government does not provide billions in additional emergency assistance.
Airlines have seen revenue and ridership take steep declines since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the spring, Congress allocated $25 billion in federal aid to the airline industry. As part of the funding, the airlines were prohibited from laying off workers through Sept. 30 and had to maintain a minimum flight schedule.
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Fort Worth-based American Airlines is set to furlough upwards of 19,000 workers in October, and CEO Doug Parker has said an additional 12,000 employees will take leave starting next month.
“We have right now just approximately 8,000 American Airlines flight attendants throughout the system that could lose their job in six short days," said Paul Hartshorn Jr. with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
In addition to the job losses, American Airlines plans to cut more than 700 flights starting in October to and from 15 smaller airports across the country.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has said it will not institute layoffs in October, but that is because more than 1 in 4 of its employees has already opted to either take voluntary leave or early retirement.
On Thursday, "Airlines for America," the industry's largest lobbying group, was critical of inaction by congressional leaders and warned the coming job losses would be devastating.
“There is not only an economic impact here, there is human toll here and all because the (congressional)leaders won’t talk to each other," Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America said.