American Airlines Will be Overstaffed for Fall by 20,000 Workers

Despite a slight uptick in air travel, and despite the fact that it will unblock middle seats and book to capacity, American Airlines now says it is overstaffed for its fall schedule.

Like, by a lot.

American CEO Doug Parker, in a note to staff, said the airline will be overstaffed by 20,000 workers, an ominous sign as the Oct. 1 deadline looms when airlines are able to lay off and furlough employees. Carriers have been prohibited from doing so if they accepted government grants and loans from the CARES Act stimulus package passed in March.

“We currently anticipate having 20 to 30% — or more than 20,000 — more team members on payroll than we need to operate our schedule this fall,” Parker and President Robert Isom wrote, according to CNBC. “To be clear, this doesn’t mean 20,000 of our team members will be furloughed in October, it simply means we still have to work to do to right-size our team for the airline we operate.”

Things are looking up for the industry. According to CNBC, in April American had around $11 million in cash receipts, which rose to $358 million in May and more than $1 billion in June.

But, “While that improvement is encouraging, it’s compared to an average of $4.2 billion each month during the same period in 2019, so we have a ways to go,” Parker and Isom wrote.

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