Southwest issues layoff warnings to 6,828 employees


Passengers check-in for a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, November 25, 2020. – (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Southwest Airlines confirmed on Friday that the airline has sent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) notices to 6,828 employees nationwide, amid a slump in demand for air travel due to the coronavirus crisis.

That figure includes 2,551 ramp, provisioning, operations, and cargo agents as well as more than 1,100 customer service agents. Over 1,200 pilots, along with 1,500 flight attendants, six flight instructors and four flight simulator technicans were included in the targeted workgroups.

The involuntary furloughs will happen on March 15 or April 1, unless Southwest reaches cost-saving agreements or the government enacts a satisfactory coronavirus relief Payroll Support Program extension.

We have been engaged with our unions since early October seeking temporary cost reductions to help offset over one billion dollars of overstaffing costs projected for 2021. Our absolute goal is to preserve every job at Southwest Airlines; however, due to a lack of meaningful progress in negotiations, we had to proceed with issuing notifications to additional Employees who are valued members of the Southwest Family. We are willing to continue negotiations quickly to preserve jobs if we can achieve the support that allows Southwest to combat the ongoing economic challenges created by the decline in demand for air travel.

Russell McCrady, vice president labor relations

Back in October, American Airlines sent furlough notifications to 19,000 of its employees. United Airlines did the same with 13,000 of its workers.

Despite a comparatively strong Thanksgiving travel weekend, the airline industry is still seeing a nearly 65-70% decrease in passenger traffic compared to the same time in 2019.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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