United, American Airlines furloughing thousands of employees

BOSTON — United and American Airlines plan to furlough thousands of employees on Thursday, while the airlines are calling on Congress to pass a stimulus bill and save jobs.

The airlines have been one of the hardest hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic. Normally around 6 a.m. at Boston’s Logan Airport, there are a few dozen people catching early-morning flights. But Thursday morning was a ghost town.

Logan Airport has seen just how big of an impact the pandemic has had on air travel, with concerning numbers.

So far this year compared to last year, Logan has seen almost 100,000 fewer domestic flights. That is more than a 43% drop.

During this past August compared to August 2019, there was a 59% decrease in flights. In August 2020, only 13,000 domestic flights flew in and out of Boston, compared to August 2019, which saw close to 32,000 domestic flights.

These are big numbers that are clearly having an impact on airlines, which is why the industry is hoping Congress will act soon.

Airlines have been receiving support from the Government, but that money ran out on Oct. 1. Now, American Airlines says it has no choice but to furlough 19,000 employees and United Airlines 12,000 employees.

Both airlines say these furloughs can be reversed if Congress approves an extra $25 billion of grants to airlines.

But on Wednesday, the House postponed a vote on a $2.2 trillion relief package, and people in the airline industry are not happy.

Industry officials say if no bill is passed, it is likely these furloughs will turn into layoffs that will be tough to fill down the road because of necessary trainings and certifications.