American Airlines to furlough, layoff 19,000 workers in October

American Airlines will have 40,000 fewer employees by October than when the pandemic struck

American Airlines said Tuesday that it will eliminate 19,000 employees by Oct. 1 as it works to recover from the sharp downturn in travel created by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Flight attendants will face the greatest number of cuts with the airline cutting some 8,100 positions, American said in a regulatory filing. About 1,600 pilots will lose their jobs.

Cuts will not be equal across the board, according to the filing. For instance, "since international flying is being reduced more than domestic service, groups that are staffed more heavily toward international service may see a larger impact," the airline said in the filing.

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The latest furloughs and management layoffs announced Tuesday are in addition to 23,500 employees who accepted buyouts, retired early or took long-term leaves of absence earlier this year.

People check in at the American Airlines counter in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"We have worked to mitigate as many involuntary reductions as possible through voluntary programs," American said. "Across the mainline and regional carriers, more than 12,500 of our colleagues have made the difficult decision to leave the company permanently through early out programs or retirement. Another 11,000 team members have offered to be on a leave of absence in October."

Still, American said unless there is an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) -- emergency relief issued by the federal government to help carriers cover payroll costs -- then jobs will be cut, forcing the carrier to enter October with at least 40,000 fewer people than when the pandemic struck.

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U.S. air travel plunged 95% by April, a few weeks after the first significant coronavirus outbreaks in the United States. Passenger traffic has recovered slightly since then but remains down 70% from a year ago, and carriers say they need fewer workers.

In March, passenger airlines got $25 billion from the government to save jobs for six months, and American was the biggest beneficiary, receiving $5.8 billion. The money, and an accompanying ban on furloughs, expire after Sept. 30, although airlines and their labor unions are lobbying Congress for another $25 billion and a six-month reprieve from job cuts.

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"The overwhelming majority of members of both the U.S. House and Senate appreciate that saving jobs in the airline industry through this crisis will mean a quicker economic recovery in the months and years ahead," American said. "And that preserving these essential service jobs will also mean continued commercial air service to all communities, small and large."

Despite broad bipartisan support, however, American claimed that a possible extension of the PSP is "tied up in a larger COVID-19 relief package, which our elected officials haven’t yet been able to negotiate."

American did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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