Businesses and communities around American Airlines Fort Worth headquarters and DFW Airport could be hit hard by the loss of spending power from furloughed employees.
The furlough of 19,000 American Airlines workers starts this month unless Congress approves a new stimulus package that saves airline jobs.
Restaurants like Simply Burgers, across Highway 360 from the Fort Worth headquarters, is already suffering from a COVID-19 loss of customers.
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“Before that we have line out the door. We have seven employees working. And now we've got one, and including me, make it two,” said owner Wanna Banthupong.
She fears even fewer customers if more headquarters workers are furloughed.
Nearby the city of Euless is heavily dependent on American Airlines.
Julie Hall, the owner of Miller Custom Cleaners in Euless, said business was just starting to improve after COVID-19 stay-at-home workers started returning to work.
“It’s going to hit the bottom line again. I haven’t been able to open my doors to the regular business hours that I had prior to COVID,” Hall said.
Her husband is an American Airlines pilot, but she hopes he will not be furloughed.
Euless Mayor Linda Martin and her husband are both retired American Airlines employees.
“The majority of households in Euless somehow touch American Airlines or DFW Airport,” Martin said.
The Mayor worries that current American Airlines workers could have trouble keeping their homes without paychecks.
“We’re already feeding a great amount of our community through our mission network and other local charities. And so the food needs, the housing needs, they’ll all trickle down,” she said.
Some of the airport property including a hotel, airport headquarters and the rental car center are in Euless.
Taxes from the airport and from struggling businesses reduce revenue the city uses to provide services.
“We are approaching this situation with American airlines the same way we did with COVID. When everything started shutting down in the spring, we started budgeting and anticipating the worst,” Martin said.
“Our losses weren’t nearly as high as we anticipated, so that was a good thing and we’re hoping this will be nearly the same.”
Julie Hall said another round of stimulus money would help.
“We’re very hopeful the government will make a decision at some point soon to help those in the airline industry. It’s definitely impactful for this whole area,” Hall said.
Fort Worth restaurant owner Wanna Banthupong said direct support in the form of government loans might not be a benefit.
“Whatever they give us, you’ve got to pay them back, and when you don’t have any business, how are you going to make money to pay them back at the end,” Banthupong said.