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American Airlines says it may have to furlough as many as 13,000 employees

In a letter to employees, American Airlines executives said slow vaccine distribution and increased COVID-19 requirements continue to depress passenger numbers.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Two American Airlines executives are warning that decreased travel volumes means the company may have to furlough up to 13,000 employees, according to a letter sent to employees Wednesday.

CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote that without an extension of the Payroll Support Program beyond the end of March, they will have more employees than the flight schedule requires.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines had expected to be back to a full summer schedule of flights, the letter said. However, due to slow vaccine rollout and the added requirement for a negative COVID-19 test for international flight, volumes were down 45% compared to the beginning of last year.

Based on current projections, AA said it will not fly its full fleet of aircraft for the summer season.

AA will open a voluntary early-out program and voluntary leave of absence program Friday for U.S. team members, not including pilots, the letter said. The company will also issue WARN notices covering about 13,000 employees.

The executives said they support unions' fights for an extension of PSP and will support the effort in every way possible. 

The current aid is set to expire on April 1.

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