Travel | October 1, 2020 10:00 am

This Could Be the Worst Day of Job Losses in Aviation History

American and United have already announced furloughs for 32,000 workers

Delta airplane flying against a blue sky
Tens of thousands of airline employees are in danger of losing their jobs.
Ryan Johns/Unsplash

Airlines have been hit hard ever since the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a grinding halt, and as CNN reports, Thursday could be the worst day of job losses in aviation history after the expiration of funding from the federal CARES Act Payroll Support Program.

American Airlines and United Airlines announced furloughs for more than 32,000 employees, and those furloughs could become permanent job cuts if Congress doesn’t offer any additional financial relief. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said the furloughs could still be reversed if a CARES Act extension comes “over the next few days.”

“I spoke late today with the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin,” Parker wrote in a letter to his employees on Wednesday. “He informed me that the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are continuing to negotiate on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that would include an extension of the PSP and it is possible they could reach an agreement in the coming days.”

Parker also urged his employees to contact their elected officials and voice their concerns. “I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,” he wrote. “It is not what you all deserve.”

Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson also joined the airlines in urging Congress to pass a new relief package as thousands of flight attendants face unemployment.

“They don’t know how they will pay rent, feed their families, or cover the cost of their prescriptions or medical care,” she said. “It did not have to be this way.”