Will airline furloughs affect air service in Amarillo?

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/NewsNation Now) — Wednesday, two of the nation’s top airlines announced they would be furloughing thousands of workers with no new agreement on the table in Washington, D.C.

American Airlines announced 19,000 workers will be furloughed beginning on Thursday. United Airlines CEO said the company is furloughing more than 13,000 workers.

MyHighPlains.com reached out to all three airlines who fly into Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport if this would affect their service in Amarillo.

United Airlines:

United Airlines said it does not have any station or location specific information to share currently.

The airline said the following statement was shared with its employees Wednesday evening:

As you know, Congress has been negotiating another stimulus bill to address the economic impact of COVID-19 and there is strong bipartisan support. But despite a chorus of voices advocating for an extension of the CARES Act Payroll Support Program – a coalition that included industry groups, other airlines, our union partners, senior leadership at United and many of you – Congress has still not taken action.

The CARES Act Payroll Support Program funding for our airline expires today, September 30. That means after months of aggressive cost-cutting and proactive debt-raising actions to manage the company through the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on our business, we regrettably are forced to move forward with the process of involuntarily furloughing about 13,000 of our United team members.

And while sadly, involuntary furloughs begin today, we haven’t given up.

In a continuing effort to give the federal government every opportunity to act, we have made clear to leadership in the Administration, Congress and among our union partners that we can and will reverse the furlough process if the CARES Act Payroll Support Program is extended in the next few days. We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs.

As you know, we started the involuntary furlough process earlier this summer when we issued WARN notices to 36,000 of our employees. We later decreased that figure by more than half to about 16,000 United employees who would be notified of an involuntary furlough effective as early as October 1. And since then, we’ve also worked to further reduce the total number of furloughs by working closely with our union partners, introducing new voluntary options, and proposing creative solutions that would save jobs.

The pandemic has devastated travel demand, from international restrictions to domestic quarantines to overall weakness in customer bookings. But throughout – and in spite of – the challenges of the past eight months, all of our employees have demonstrated how much they care about each other and our customers. To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back.

United Airlines Statement

American Airlines:

An American Airlines spokesperson said there are no planned changes to service at Amarillo at this time.

The airline did release a statement about the furloughs on Wednesday to NewsNation, saying:

You are all well aware that tomorrow, Oct. 1, the Payroll Support Program (PSP) under the
CARES Act is set to expire. Despite enormous bipartisan support for an extension of the PSP,
our elected officials have not been able to reach agreement on a COVID-19 relief package that
would enable this extension. As a result, tomorrow, we will begin the difficult process of
furloughing 19,000 of our hardworking and dedicated colleagues.

I spoke late today with the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. He informed me that the
White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are continuing to negotiate on a bipartisan COVID-19
relief package that would include an extension of the PSP and it is possible they could reach an
agreement in the coming days. There are also efforts in both the Senate and the House of
Representatives to pass a standalone PSP extension if the broader relief package does not

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any of these efforts will come to fruition. However, in an
effort to encourage cooperation and keep hope alive for our team, I informed the Secretary that if
these efforts to extend PSP are successful over the next few days, we will reverse our furlough
processes and recall any impacted team members.

I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome. It is not what you all deserve. It is a
privilege to advocate on behalf of the hardworking aviation professionals at American and
throughout the industry, and you have my assurance that we will continue to do so in the days
ahead. Please keep contacting your elected officials about the importance of reaching an
agreement that will extend PSP. We are not done fighting.

American Airlines Statement

Southwest Airlines:

Though Southwest Airlines has not announced any plans for furloughs, we did reach out to them to see if any changes were planned for their Amarillo service.

The airline said in a statement:

We shared back in late July that no layoffs or furloughs are planned for 2020 at Southwest and there’s been no chance to that, nor do we have any service changes to announce today that are tied to the expiration of support from Washington. We’re putting out revisions to our flight schedule month-by-month right now to offer the best flights to address current travel demand.

Southwest Airlines Statement

MyHighPlains.com reached out to the City of Amarillo for comment on the topic. The city said no one was available for comment today, but would have a response at a later date.

The aviation industry had been able to stay afloat because of the government bailout it received in March. Part of that Cares Act deal was that there would be no permanent layoffs until October 1.

With no new agreement on the table and a stimulus vote delayed in the U.S. House, massive layoffs are on the horizon.

Union workers have said some 75,000 aviation jobs are on the chopping block if financial relief isn’t extended to airlines.

Those close to the industry say the impacts would be catastrophic, and Congress is running out of runway to strike a deal.

NewsNationNow.com contributed to this report.

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