U.S. AIRLINES SEND 32,000 WORKERS ON FURLOUGHS
American Airlines and United Airlines, two of the largest U.S. carriers, said they were beginning furloughs of over 32,000 workers on Thursday as hopes faded for a last-minute bailout from Washington, Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson reported for Reuters.
Both airlines told employees, however, in memos seen by Reuters on Wednesday that they stood ready to reverse the furloughs, which affect about 13% of their workforces before the pandemic, if a deal was reached. Tens of thousands of other employees at those airlines and others including Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have accepted buyouts or leaves of absence aimed at reducing headcount as carriers battle a health crisis that has upended the global travel industry.
US airlines have been pleading for another $25 billion in payroll support to protect jobs for a further six months once the current package, which banned furloughs, expires at midnight EDT. In a memo to employees, American Chief Executive Doug Parker said Mnuchin told him that he and Pelosi were continuing to negotiate on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that would include an extension of aid for airlines and could reach an agreement in coming days. “Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any of these efforts will come to fruition,” Parker said.
Earlier, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi had made progress on a bipartisan aid plan, although no deal was reached and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief proposal “outlandish.”
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