American Airlines CEO sees 10% -20% additional staff in July 2021, ‘difficult’ to avoid permits

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) Expects to have 10-20% more workers than needed by July 2021, Chief Executive Doug Parker told city council employees this week, saying avoiding permits will be difficult.

FILE PHOTO: American Airlines passenger planes clog a runway where they are parked due to flight reductions made to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, March 23, 2020. REUTERS / Nick Oxford

Facing a strong impact on business due to the coronavirus pandemic, US airlines and other US airlines warned about the permits in October, which is when government payroll aid for the airlines expires, but said they hoped to avoid them.

“It is going to be even more difficult than I thought,” Parker said at an employee town hall on Wednesday, adding that “revenue will not come back as quickly as we would like.”

Reuters reviewed a video recording of the city hall, showing Parker wearing a protective face mask.

At the end of last year, American had 133,700 employees, more than any other American airline.

In October, American expects to have between 20% and 30% more workers than necessary, Parker said, adding that licensing decisions could revolve more around the July 2021 forecast of 10% to 20% excess workers, with potentially less pain for pilots than other flight attendants.

“It really doesn’t make sense to go to a pilot without a permit in October if you’re going to need that pilot again in July,” Parker said, noting the costly training required to bring a pilot back from a permit.

American’s management has shared the job numbers with the unions and was working on solutions, Parker said. The number of additional flight attendants is expected to be in the upper range, Parker added.

Under the CARES Act, which gave the US aviation sector a $ 32 billion bailout to cover payroll, airlines cannot force any involuntary leave before October and have been trying to encourage employees to accept voluntary departure agreements.

Major aviation unions have asked the United States Congress to consider extending the payroll support package until March.

Report by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Will Dunham

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