American CEO Doug Parker tells workers to ‘tear up’ furlough notices after new relief bill

Mar 10, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It’s the news every airline worker has been waiting to hear.

The next round of furloughs is officially canceled at American Airlines, following the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the latest pandemic aid package. They’re canceled at United, too.  Combined, that staves off the furloughing of about 27,000 workers at those two airlines alone at least through September.

The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Biden in the coming days, includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) that was first featured in the April, 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

The $15 billion payroll support program is, in essence, meant to allow airlines to continue to pay employees even as revenue has plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic. Airline labor groups have described it as financial aid to airline workers, which is simply distributed through the airline payroll systems.

““For Flight Attendants and other aviation workers this bill passage means continuing the historic Workers First Payroll Support Program that we achieved in the CARES Act a year ago,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement. “Aviation workers will receive a paycheck and healthcare through September, and stay current on our certifications so we’re in place to meet demand as vaccinations are readily available and travel returns to the skies.”

The airline and broader travel industries have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. U.S. airlines lost a combined $35 billion in 2020, with passenger numbers down more than 60% from 2019 levels.

To receive aid, airlines must agree to not furlough workers before Sept. 30, 2021.

American Airlines had previously notified 13,000 workers of imminent furlough if PSP funding was not renewed.

More:What we know about the data breach targeting frequent flyer info

“For our 13,000 colleagues who received Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices last month, those are happily canceled – you can tear them up,” CEO Doug Parker said in a letter to employees.

United had planned to furlough about 14,000 workers without an extension.

“We have been strategically setting United Airlines up to emerge from this as the best global airline in the world,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in his own message to employees. “But a large part of that preparation relies on one of our greatest assets: our frontline employees. By extending PSP, our teams will be able to remain current in their training and ready to match expected future demand.”

Although international travel demand is not expected to meaningfully recover before 2022, airlines have expressed increasing optimism over domestic travel demand, particularly as COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.

On Wednesday, President Biden said that all Americans will have access to the vaccine by the end of May.

Featured image by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.