American Airlines Group and United Airlines Holdings will start laying off thousands of employees as scheduled, spurning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s appeal for a delay as he negotiates with Congress over an economic relief plan that includes payroll support for US carriers. Both airlines vowed to reverse the cuts if the government agrees to provide additional aid in the next few days, according to memos to workers issued late Wednesday by the carriers. The furloughs total 19,000 at American and about 13,000 at United. The job cuts ramp up the pressure on Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they haggle over an economic relief plan, with Democrats calling for $2.2 trillion and the White House pushing for about $1.6 trillion.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said late Wednesday that the most recent proposal includes $20 billion for airlines as the industry contends with an unprecedented collapse in travel demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,” American Airlines Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said in a letter to employees as he announced the layoffs. “It is not what you all deserve.” American climbed 1.9 per cent to $12.52 ahead of regular trading in New York, while United advanced 1.8 per cent to $35.38.