DETROIT (AP) – Concerns are growing for United Airlines flight attendant Jordan Komu.
In a few days, he will be among the nearly 40,000 airline employees whose jobs are likely to develop in an industry sparked by the coronovirus epidemic.
Until Congress works to help for the second time, United will take out Comex by cutting its income and health insurance on Thursday. Unemployment and the funds created by her husband, a home health nurse, would not be enough to pay bills, including rent, near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
“I don’t have enough, unfortunately, to get by,” said Comex, 31, who has worked for United for 31 years. “Nobody knows what is going to happen next and how to prepare.”
Since the epidemic, thousands of flight attendants, luggage operators, gate agents and others have been receiving at least partial salaries through $ 25 billion in grants and loans to the country’s airlines. To receive assistance, the companies agreed not to hire employees from 30 September. The “payroll support program” helped many people to live and maintain health care and other benefits.
It all runs on Thursdays.
With almost 70% of air travel since last year, many carriers, including United and American, say they will be forced to cut jobs without additional assistance. Delta and Southwest, two other large carriers, exploited the private capital market and said they would avoid layoffs.
Industry analysts say the fear of air travel and keeping employees close to home has brought an unprecedented crisis for the industry, Resulting in catastrophic losses. The four largest American airlines – Delta, United, American and Southwest – made $ 10 billion in losses in the second quarter alone. Fewer airline passengers also mean less demand for rental cars, hotels and restaurants. Airplane manufacturer Boeing has also cut thousands of jobs, due to reduced demand for new aircraft.
“I understand, this is the largest demand for commercial aviation in human history,” said Morningstar Aviation analyst Berket Hue.
The International Air Transport Association on Tuesday lowered its full-year traffic forecast. The business group for airlines around the world now expects a 2020 drop to 63% in 2020, with a 66% drop in 2019.
Airlines in Europe are expecting years of trouble and have worked quickly to cut jobs despite obtaining government rescue loans.
Germany’s Lufthansa won a government bailout of 9 billion euros, but announced an additional round of cuts after a summer collision in holiday travel in September. The company has parked its jumbo jets and plans to eliminate 22,000 full-time positions. British Airways parent company IAG has said it will cut its workforce of 42,000 people to 12,000.
In the US, Congress is considering another round of airline aid For weeks, but it hangs in a debate over a large national relief package. Airlines for America Trade Group said a House proposal unveiled on Monday raised some hope as Democrats and Republicans appeared to be talking. Sorting may be delayed if a deal is imminent.
Tony Valentine, 41, a joint reservation agent in Detroit who has been with the airline for 15 years, has been told he will be closed this week. She has six children between the ages of 2 and 22, and her husband cannot work because he is recovering from a major stroke.
“Knowing that I may not have insurance benefits, I think I have failed,” she said on a conference call set up by the Machicists’ Union. “I am the primary breadwinner in this family.”
Prior to the epidemic, airlines were thriving. Plans were filled, profits were thick, and workers were getting scrutinized on a large scale. This helped Valentine, who said she worked 80 hours per week, but still barely made it after her husband’s illness.
He said that his 19-year-old son has now been dropped out of college to support the family. “We are crying for help and no one is hearing,” she said.
Tevita Uthafe was also a major beneficiary of overtime pay, working 60 hours a week loading luggage and airplanes for American Airlines in Dallas. He and his wife, who hold the same fleet service job, earned enough to buy a house and a new car in January.
Then came an epidemic. Gone overtime. Uhtafé and his wife cut expenses and speed up their shifts, so that two sons and one niece could stay home to oversee distance education.
But come on Thursday, they are both only likely to get part-time hours, which means their household income may be half. “We can’t afford our mortgages, our car payments, our other utilities,” he said.
They also fear that they will not be able to combat and cut healthcare. “They have looked for jobs, but in a market with high unemployment,” he said, “there is nothing for us right now.”
Ellie Malice, an American Airlines flight attendant in Washington, DC, also faces layoffs on Thursday. “I don’t have a Plan B at the moment,” she said.
With early retirement and other incentives to leave, American Airlines has already shed about 45,000 jobs, or 48,000 including cargo carriers, during the epidemic. Government figures are only available through July, however.
In comparison, the terrorist attacks in the first six months after September 11, 2001, when passenger and cargo airlines cut more than 90,000 jobs, and employment declined for the next two years.
Two decades later, airline employment is still not fully recovered. Malice said that American had not appointed any new flight attendants until 2013 because it was still calling back those who had been laid off.
The epidemic may account for about 20% of the total workforce since job losses in the airline industry, when other sectors including restaurants, bars and hotel businesses are feeling even more pain for the next round of cuts. Since February, coronoviruses in the US took hold before August, with those occupations employing about 5.8 million jobs, or about 22% of the total number, according to federal data.
Probably the hardest hit for flight attendants would be if the airline was retrenched this week, as there are more than 25,000 of them, more than any other job in the industry, by Sawanthi Sith, airlines analyst for Raymond James said.
Pilots may not be affected as much as airlines want to avoid the cost of remodeling them as they are in a position to reintegrate. On Monday, United Airlines pilots confirmed an agreement The union and the airline say about 2,850 furloughs will be avoided to take effect this weekend, and another 1,000 early next year.
Whether or not air travel will overcome the epidemic and if airlines can fly through the unrest, no one is aware of it. Morningstar expects a vaccine to be available by the end of this year, with widespread distribution by mid-2021, but recovery can still take years.
Comex hoped that their union, the Flight Attendants Association, could successfully help Congress in the next few days. Many joint flight attendants, he said, took special cards with no pay to preserve jobs for others.
“How long is it going to take us to go back?” He asked. “This is the really tricky part.”
Reported from Detroit. Bussewitz reports from New York. David Konig, author of AP Airlines in Dallas and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York and Monica Mathur in Washington contributed to this report.