Furloughs in effect for 900 Charlotte-based American Airlines workers after failure to extend Payroll Support Program

Thousands of airline workers furloughed

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Starting Thursday, about 32,000 employees of American and United Airlines are furloughed.

That includes about 900 American Airlines team members at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The airlines needed an extension of the Payroll Support Program through the CARES Act to allow them to keep paying their employees, but it did not come soon enough.

American Airlines flight attendant Ingrid Woronin said that reality is sinking in.

“I’m used to checking my schedule or if I’m on reserve checking to see what number I am to get called," Woronin said. "And there wasn’t any of that, it’s just so bizarre.”

She is one of the 900 American Airlines team members based out of Charlotte put on furlough.

CEO Doug Parker penned this letter to them writing in part that “despite enormous bipartisan support for an extension of the Payroll Support Program, our elected officials have not been able to reach agreement on a COVID-19 relief package that would enable this extension.”

He also wrote that he “spoke today with the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnunchin.

“He informed me that the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are continuing to negotiate on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that would include an extension of PSP and it is possible they could reach an agreement in the coming days,” Parker said.

Labor union leaders say without it ripple effects are imminent.

“There are many communities where American Airlines is the only operator with possibly one or two flights a day," Paul Hartshorn Jr., with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said. "Suspending those flights will be devastating to those economies and the jobs in those areas.”

For Woronin, it means not knowing how she will pay her bills.

“I went to flight attendant training, not a university, how would I correlate that in the real world?" she said.

Woronin said she is not ready to give up.

She is holding onto Parker’s promise from his letter.

He said that “if these efforts to extend PSP are successful over the next few days, we will reverse our furlough processes and recall any impacted team members.”

“It makes me want to cry," Woronin said. "I’m hopeful that it will come back. I love this job, it’s like a family. It’s indescribable because it’s a job that has allowed me to see the world.”

Both North Carolina state senators support an extension to PSP, known as The Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act.

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