American Airlines will furlough more than 1,100 employees who work in St. Louis as part of cutbacks nationally that will reduce the airline’s workforce by more than 13,000.
Citing the continued issues surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on travel, the company said it would reduce its workforce at St. Louis Lambert International Airport by 1,173, with 1,170 of the employees subject to recall if the economy improves.
“As a result of unforeseeable circumstances beyond the company’s control, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has carefully analyzed its available options, and it is with regret that I report to you that the company anticipates taking job actions,” stated the unsigned letter that served as the airline’s WARN Notice, which required 60 days in advance of mass layoffs.
The airline warned its employees last week that the furloughs would be coming. WFAA in Dallas reported that CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom told employees in a letter that without an extension of the Payroll Support Program beyond the end of March, the airline will have more employees than the flight schedule requires.
The program, first created as part of the CARES Act passed in March 2020, supported airline payrolls through Oct. 1 and was renewed again on Dec. 27 through March 27.
The WARN notice does not break down the layoffs among the airline’s various job classifications. The Dallas Morning News reported that the furlough notices throughout the airline include 4,245 flight attendants, 1,850 pilots, 3,145 fleet service workers and 1,205 passenger service workers.
“Represented employees in all job classification have bumping rights except for pilots and flight attendants,” the notice dated Feb. 5 states. “The furloughs are expected to be temporary.”
The airline furloughed 19,000 employees on Oct. 1 and recalled them after Congress approved the latest round of airline payments in late December.
The notice is the third and by far the largest layoff notice received so far this year by the Division of Workforce Development. More than 150 mass layoff notices were received by the state in 2020, with the vast majority citing business disruptions due to COVID-19 as the reason for cutting employees.
According to the data tracked by Harvard University-affiliated Opportunity Insights, transportation and entertainment are the two sectors hardest-hit by changes in spending patterns because of the pandemic. Spending on all transportation needs is down 40% from Jan. 1, 2020, levels.
American Airlines lost $8.9 billion in 2020, the Dallas Morning News reported, and received $9.1 billion in federal relief payments.