American Airlines announced Wednesday that it will be sending vacation notices to approximately 13,000 employees this week as a second round of government payroll assistance expires next month and demand for travel continues to be in ruins.
“The vaccine is not being distributed as quickly as neither of us expected, and new restrictions on international travel requiring customers to test negative for COVID-19 have dampened demand,” wrote Doug Parker, CEO of American, and Robert Isom, President, in a note to staff.
Rival United Airlines sent similar vacation alerts to 14,000 employees last Friday.
The last $ 15 billion congress, approved for U.S. airlines late last year, urged airlines to call back employees on leave in the fall and keep payroll up through March 31. This was the second round of Covid aid to the industry. Congress gave airlines $ 25 billion last March to keep them from downsizing in the fall.
The airline unions are now seeking more than $ 15 billion in support for the industry’s payroll to keep jobs through Sept. 30, and Americans Parker and Isom said they are backing another round of aid.
“We are fully behind our union leaders’ efforts to fight for an extension and we will use our time and energy to support that effort in any way we can,” they said.
After the U.S. airline’s CEOs reported new record losses of $ 34 billion last month, they warned they wouldn’t expect a sharp recovery in air travel anytime soon.
Employers are required by law to give staff 60 days’ notice of possible layoffs or temporary vacation days. The communications do not guarantee that recipients will ultimately lose their jobs.
American offers early retirement programs for employees who have been in their workgroups for more than 10 years, including up to $ 150,000 for a retirement reimbursement package and some travel benefits. Absence leave for one year or 18 months with partial remuneration will also be introduced.
“Obviously, issuing these required warnings is not a step we want to take,” said Parker and Isom. “Tens of thousands of our colleagues have faced extreme uncertainty about their job security in the past 12 months. This adds to the emotional stress that our entire team was exposed to during an incredibly difficult year.”
American CEO Parker warned employees last week that the airline is still overstaffed for current demand forecasts and that vacation days may be on the way.