American Airlines begins return of workers amid payroll relief funds

American Airlines begins a gradual return of laid off workers after the U.S. Congress passes a pandemic relief package that includes $ 15 billion in airline wage support, its executives said in an employee memo Tuesday.

“While pay and benefits will be restored right away, people will be asked to return to the operation in phases,” Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in the memo, released by American.

Air passenger traffic has decreased by around 70% this year compared to the previous year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the travel industry. U.S. airlines laid off tens of thousands of workers when an initial $ 25 billion federal aid ban on job cuts expired in October.


United Airlines executives warned on Monday that its recall of furloughed employees after the fresh aid would be “temporary,” saying “we just don’t see anything in the data that shows a huge difference in bookings over the next few months.”

American said relief efforts would help airlines serve passengers once the pandemic subsides and help distribute COVID-19 vaccines and other vital supplies in the short term.


The airlines have stated that they do not expect a full travel recovery until effective vaccines or treatments are widely available to the citizens.


American Airlines (AAL) has laid off nearly 19,000 employees since October, the company is expected to receive around $ 3 billion in payroll, a person briefed on the matter said. The condition to receive the money is that American Airline must recall laid-off workers. 


The new aid package includes similar conditions as the previous one, such as caps on executive compensation and share buybacks, and requires airlines to repay 30% of the payroll grants over time, offer the government warrants, and restore some routes.

The program could for the time being prevent job cuts at Southwest Airlines, who have asked unions to agree to cut back to prevent his very first time off next year.


A spokesman for Southwest said the company had no information about the possible free time and would be closely examining the final terms of the program once the bill goes into effect.


Delta Air Lines, among other major U.S. airlines, avoided time off this year after cutting the hours of its largely unionized workers. The unionized pilots have agreed to pay discounts to avoid taking a break until 2021.

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