American Airlines says it has 20,000 employees it doesn’t need for fall schedule

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — American Airlines sent a note to its staff Thursday saying it has more than 20,000 employees it doesn’t need for its reduced fall schedule.

The announcement comes as major airlines battle to stay afloat with the low demand for air travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a staff note.

Employees are protected from pay cuts and being laid off until October 1 as part of the terms of the $25 billion in federal payroll assistance that was given to airlines to help them cope with the financial impacts of the virus.

The airline is encouraging employees to leave voluntarily or take early retirement options to reduce staff numbers before possibly having to carry out furloughs later this year.

“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,” the note reads.

American Airlines employs 11,000 workers in Charlotte.

The airline announced Wednesday that is discontinuing its flights to Paris, Rome and Spain from Charlotte Douglas International Airport as part of a larger move to reset its international schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The national unemployment rate fell to 11.1%.

The highest it has gotten since the pandemic hit was nearly 15% but then states reopened and some people got their jobs back.

President Donald Trump called the 4.8 million jobs gained the biggest monthly gain in history.

The unemployment report released Thursday stopped in the middle of June, so that doesn't account for the huge spike in COVID cases recently.

Several other states have also slowed down the reopening process.

Economist said as case numbers increase, so will unemployment.

There were nearly 50,000 new cases Wednesday in the U.S.

Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that number could rise to 100,000 a day if the country does not stop the spread of the virus.

If that does happen, experts said to expect unemployment to spike again.