DALLAS — American Airlines, one of the largest employers locally, could furlough over 2,700 and lay off nearly 500 more employees in Dallas-Fort Worth this spring, according to a letter the airline sent the Texas Workforce Commission earlier this month.
American Airlines Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) told all employees Feb. 4 that up to 13,000 could be furloughed come April after federal financial aid runs out. The 2,760 furloughs are expected to be temporary, while another 488 employee separations are expected to be permanent, American said in the letter.
These notices of potential furloughs come in the form of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notices. Just because a company issues WARN Act notices doesn't mean furloughs are guaranteed or that every employee who receives a notice will be furloughed. For example, the airline industry could receive another round of financial aid from the federal government and plans for furloughs could be reversed — a scenario that played out at the end of last year across the industry.
Since word came out earlier this month that American was planning to furlough up to 13,000 employees company-wide, numbers have been trickling out detailing the impact to various American bases across the country. The Fort Worth-based airline could furlough over 1,000 employees in Philadelphia, another 1,000 in Miami and 700 in Charlotte this spring.
"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 towards employees who work at the following locations," American said in a letter to the TWC, listing several locations in North Texas like its corporate headquarters, DFW Airport and the CR Smith Museum.
American will still be one of the largest employers locally even if this round of furloughs and layoffs comes to fruition. Before the pandemic, American employed approximately 33,000 people in North Texas.
Airlines are losing millions of dollars every day because of COVID-19's effect on air travel demand. At the onset of the pandemic, the industry received billions of dollars in Payroll Support Program funds, which were allocated to airlines for the explicit purpose of keeping employees on the payroll. Airlines that took PSP funds agreed to not furlough any employees.
Those original PSP funds ran out Oct. 1, 2020. For months before and after that date, the industry clamored for more funding, which it eventually received as part of a larger federal aid package passed by Congress. On Dec. 22, American management said it would recall nearly 19,000 employees back to work.
The thinking was by the time the spring rolled around, air travel demand would have returned thanks to a vaccine rollout. That hasn't happened.
An American spokesperson declined to comment on potential D-FW furloughs.