Both United Airlines and American Airlines have sent furlough notices to more than 32,000 employees. In the notice, the two airlines said they can’t afford them on the payroll after the expiration date of the United States CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) act payroll support program that ran from April through September.
The CARES act was created to provide payroll support to passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and certain contractors for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits. A total of up to $25 billion was available for passenger air carriers; $4 billion for cargo air carriers; and $3 billion for certain contractors.
“To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back,” United Airlines said in a message sent to employees Wednesday night that it also shared with npr.
American Airlines sent a similar message to 19,000 employees, but CEO Doug Parker was quick to say that if the U.S. Government could reach a new aid package, he would immediately reverse the furloughs.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said that the expiration of the payroll support program was a very difficult day for the aviation industry. Southwest Airlines isn’t immune to this, he said, adding that airline is urgently needing an extension to avoid actions similar to those our competitors have taken.