American Airlines plans 19,000 furloughs or layoffs in October

American Airlines said Tuesday it will cut more than 40,000 jobs, including 19,000 through furloughs and layoffs, in October unless the airline industry gets more help from Congress.

American began the year with about 140,000 employees but expects fewer than 100,000 to remain in October. About 23,500 employees have accepted buyouts, retired early or taken long-term leaves of absence, but that was not enough to avoid involuntary cuts. 

In March, passenger airlines got $25 billion from the government to save jobs for six months, and American was the biggest beneficiary, receiving $5.8 billion. The money, and an accompanying ban on furloughs, expire after Sept. 30, although airlines and their labor unions are lobbying Congress for another $25 billion and a six-month reprieve from job cuts.

United Airlines warned 36,000 employees in July that they could lose their jobs in October. The airline has not updated that figure. Southwest Airlines has said it doesn’t expect to impose furloughs this year, although like others, Southwest is encouraging employees to take buyouts or early retirement.

Delta plans to furlough all pilots with less than about three years of experience at the Atlanta-based airline. Delta’s senior vice president of flight operations, John Laughter, said the airline has known that early retirements alone wouldn’t be enough to reduce the pilot ranks.

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