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American Airlines Employee Union Urges Washington To Act Quickly

American Airlines plane
American Airlines furloughed nearly 20,000 employees on Oct. 1, 2020.

American Airlines’ employee union representatives say lawmakers in Washington need to act quickly after nearly 20,000 employees were furloughed.

The airline's decision came Thursday as federal aid through a payroll support program runs out.

Earlier this year, American Airlines received nearly $6 billion in federal loans to help with payroll. At the time, the airline said it would not lay off employees. But now those funds are running out and the airline says it can’t keep paying it’s workers.

“In our case, we will have about 1,600 pilots furloughed from the airline beginning today and that will continue over the next three months," said Gregg Overman with the Allied Pilots Association in Fort Worth. "Also, several thousand flight attendants are going to be furloughed.”

And with fewer employees, the airline will have to cut flights. Overman said that will affect smaller U.S. cities as well as suppliers.

“People don’t realize that passenger carriers also transport a huge amount of freight on a daily basis, so some cities are going to lose those services, and the businesses that are in those cities that depend on that service will suffer."

Overman said his group has been in contact with Congress and the White House to reach a deal on a COVID-19 relief package. There’s bipartisan support but, he added, the issue is caught up in partisan politics.

Overman said there’s a lot of pent up demand for airline travel and the sooner the issue is resolved, the better.

"We think that people will want to travel again, once there’s a vaccine and broad distribution.”

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