Lambert Airport

St. Louis Lambert International Airport

American Airlines plans to furlough nearly 1,200 employees at St. Louis Lambert International Airport starting in early April when federal aid for airline workers expires.

In a letter to the state on February 5th, the airline also said it would permanently lay off three employees in St. Louis.

That’s part of a larger plan to temporarily furlough 13,000 employees across the country, according to a letter executives sent to employees last week.

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in the letter that the company is in for another summer of reduced flights, despite hopes of a turnaround.

“We are nearly five weeks into 2021, and unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation similar to much of 2020,” they said. “The vaccine is not being distributed as quickly as any of us believed, and new restrictions on international travel that require customers to have a negative COVID-19 test have dampened demand.”

The executives said federal payroll support helped them keep workers employed last year and they’re supporting union efforts pushing to extend aid until September.

American Airlines is the second-largest airline at Lambert after Southwest, accounting for 16% of passenger traffic last year.

A Lambert spokesperson declined to comment on how the announcement may impact the airport.

The airline industry continues to deal with major losses caused by a drop in passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry sources say air travel plunged 95% last year, although it has improved slightly in the last few months.

According to industry sources, domestic air carriers had about 133,000 employees last fall. That total is expected to dip to fewer than 100,000 by this spring.

In addition to St. Louis, other airline hubs have announced plans to furlough or permanently let go of thousands of employees in the coming months.

According to Forbes magazine, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is expected to furlough 2,700 employees in the coming weeks. Both Philadelphia and Miami are each planning to lay off 1,000 employees, while Charlotte airport has indicated that it will furlough about 700.

Corinne Ruff is the economic development reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, a media partner of The St. Louis American.

Republished with permission of St. Louis Public Radio:

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