American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker warned employees that the airline is likely to have 10-20 percent excess employees by July 2021 due to the continuing impact of the Corona crisis. Flight attendants are likely to be one of the hardest-hit workgroups Parker warned at a town hall employee meeting last week, while pilots may be saved due to the high costs involved in recruiting and training them.
The Dallas Fort Worth-based airline has been encouraging employees to take long periods of leave or early retirement to reduce their workforce, but Parker now believes that involuntary leave is likely to be inevitable. “It is going to be even more difficult than I thought,” Parker warned grimly in comments first reported by Reuters.
Despite a slight increase in passenger numbers in recent weeks, Parker warned that “revenue will not return as quickly as we would like.” In early June, American was slightly more optimistic after reporting that it had ‘parked’ 200 mostly single-aisle aircraft that had landed in response to the massive drop in travel demand due to a “positive trend” in future Bookings.
At the height of the Corona crisis in April, American Airlines reduced its hours by more than 80 percent, but the airline has since added about 10 percent of its capacity. At its Dallas center, capacity will run around 40 percent in July according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), an increase of more than 13 percent compared to June.
The latest data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shows that the number of passengers on all US-based airlines currently represents about 20 percent of what they handled. time last year.
By October, American will have about 20 to 30 percent more staff than it needs. By July 2021, that number is forecast to drop between 10 and 20 percent. Parker told staff that any licensing decision could be based on predictions for July 2021.
As a condition of accepting a $ 5.8 billion bailout under the CARES Act, American is prohibited from implementing any involuntary permits until October 1. The airline has already told its Administration and Management (M&A) working group that up to 30 percent of employees in that department will likely be cut.
A leaked memorandum warned M&A staff that American “should plan to operate a smaller airline for the foreseeable future.”
“It really doesn’t make sense to go without a pilot’s license in October if you’re going to need that pilot again in July,” Parker is said to have justified his decision to possibly suspend fewer pilots than flight attendants or other employees.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents American’s FA, has asked the federal government to extend the CARES Act with a second rescue from the airline. The call echoed a coalition of unions, including the CWA-affiliated Flight Attendant Association, which represents FAs on 20 airlines, including United, and would put the involuntary permits on hold for another six months.
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