MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – American Airlines and United Airlines are furloughing 32,000 employees after a federal prohibition on job cuts expired on Thursday.
American Airlines, which has a major hub at Miami International Airport, will lay off 2,000 employees who work in South Florida, according to the Sun-Sentinel. American also serves, to a lesser extent, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport.
American and United said that they could reverse the furloughs if Congress and the White House quickly agree to provide billions more in taxpayer help to the embattled airline industry.
The World Travel and Tourism Council said the layoffs could have a domino effect on the industry.
“By the end of the year, we’re estimating that 197-million jobs will be impacted globally. To give you perspective, that’s the population of Mexico plus Canada and a little bit more, or a little bit more than half of the U.S.,” said World Travel and Tourism Council CEO Gloria Guevara.
The White House included $20 billion for airlines in a $1.6 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal, moving closer to House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the new offer still fell short.
Airlines and their unions are lobbying for money to keep workers on airline payrolls for six more months, through next March. They received $25 billion, mostly in cash, to pay employees through Sept. 30 in exchange for avoiding layoffs or furloughs.
Airlines have already shrunk by persuading tens of thousands of employees to volunteer for early retirement or buyouts — Southwest’s workforce shrank by 28%. Even with those departures, however, the airlines still have more employees than they need because air travel is down nearly 70% from a year ago.
The largest four U.S. airlines have lost more than $10 billion between them since the pandemic started.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)