Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Doomsday has arrived for tens of thousands of workers

Illustration of an aviation marshall directing traffic towards an exit door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Federal coronavirus aid for airlines expires on Thursday with no renewal in sight, meaning massive layoffs for the industry aren't far behind.

The big picture: Airline workers aren't alone on the unemployment line. Oil companies, tire manufacturers, book publishers and insurers are among those that have announced tens of thousands of layoffs. Federal aid through the CARES Act earlier this year delayed most layoffs — until now.

  • American Airlines on Wednesday was the first to announce that it will begin furloughing 19,000 employees on Thursday.
  • United Airlines' CEO warned in a letter last month that the company could furlough up to 16,000 if aid was not renewed.
  • Spirit Airlines says it will cut 1,000 jobs in Florida, per Bloomberg.
  • Delta says it will delay potential furloughs until Nov. 1 in order to allow themselves more time to assess their finances, per NBC News.
  • Allstate Insurance is laying off 3,800 employees, about 8% of their workers, The New York Times reports.
  • Up to 9,000 Shell Oil workers are losing their jobs, according to Business Insider.
  • Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is cutting 15% of its workforce, or more than 3,700 jobs, due to coronavirus business slowdowns and store closures, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Defense contractor Raytheon is trimming 15,000 workers, the company announced last month.

Why it matters: The job losses ripple into other industries, such as hotels and theme parks.

  • Disney on Tuesday said it will layoff 28,000 employees, mostly in its theme parks.
  • Hotels chains including Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton and Choice have issued thousands of layoffs since the start of the pandemic.
  • More than 900 previously furloughed employees at Busch Gardens in Tampa will be laid off, per an announcement last week.
  • Over 1,800 employees at the theme parks SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove and Aquatica also faced layoffs late last month, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Between the lines: There's bipartisan support — including from President Trump — for some extensions to federal airline relief efforts. But funding for the industry is wrapped up in larger stimulus talks, causing the initiative to stall, Axios' Joann Muller notes on Axios Today.

  • Travel during the holiday season could throw a lifeline to airlines, but the likelihood remains unclear.
  • "I think people will be driving to grandma's house rather than flying this year," Muller said.

The bottom line: Everyone wants a deal, they think there will be a deal, but they don't realistically think it will happen before the election, Axios' Alayna Treene says.

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