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Airlines Lost Over 400,00 Workers—United Airlines Announced Another 14,000 Jobs May Be Lost

The airline industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. The pandemic nearly grounded the industry to a complete halt. As the outbreak has persisted for almost a full year, carriers, such as United Airlines, have continually sought financial help from the government and executed numerous rounds of layoffs and furloughs. According to Bloomberg, “About 400,000 airline workers have been fired, furloughed or told they may lose their jobs due to [Covid-19].”


United Airlines, once again, announced that there may be large layoffs looming. According to CNBC reporting, the company said “roughly 14,000 employees are at risk.” The reason for the potential downsizing is because the “second round of federal aid expires this spring,” and if the situation does not improve, the airline will be left with little other choices than to cut costs and let go of workers.


Back in May, one of the wealthiest investors in the world, Warren Buffett, hosted his company’s annual shareholders meeting. Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s publicly traded holding company, traditionally makes the investor meeting a fun party for its shareholders. Thousands would regularly pilgrimage to Nebraska, the home of Buffett, to hear the “Oracle of Omaha” share his good, old-fashioned pearls of wisdom. As a sign of the times, due to social distancing and fear of flying, the event was live-streamed with only a few people alongside Buffett.


The billionaire was relatively dour regarding current investment ideas. Buffett specifically called out the airlines and said that he sold all of his holdings in this sector—some for big losses.


There has been an unrelenting pattern of optimism, soon followed by dashed hope, in the airlines industry. Believing that the situation would improve led to rounds of government financial aid given to the airlines to retain its workers. As the pandemic raged on and people avoided traveling, furloughs and downsizing followed, as companies didn’t possess the financial wherewithal to continue employing workers without support from the government.


The airlines have heavily relied upon the largess of the federal government to stay in business.


As part of the $900 billion Covid-19 stimulus package, airlines received about $15 billion for “payroll support.” The money was intended to help this sector bring back furloughed workers and avoid further layoffs. This was in addition to the roughly $60 billion the airline industry already received in government financial support.


Reuters previously reported, “In a staff memo, United executives warned that it expects the recall will be ‘temporary,’ as travel demand remains depressed. The relief would cover employee payroll costs until March 31, 2021.” CEO Scott Kirby and president Brett Hart candidly said in the memo released by United, “The truth is, we just don’t see anything in the data that shows a huge difference in bookings over the next few months.”


After passenger airlines received $25 billion to cover airline workers’ salaries, American Airlines and United furloughed more than 32,000 workers in October—when the six-month period expired. The six-month period was to keep workers employed until the busy summer travel season, which never came.


Once again, the airlines are seeking help. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and related unions petitioned President Joe Biden and congressional leaders for a “third round of federal payroll aid for airlines that would maintain jobs until Sept. 30.”


American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “We are definitely going to need to address this unless demand starts to pick up.” Parker added, “We’re already talking to our unions about things we might be able to do.”


It didn't help matters that United Airlines lavished its executives with lush compensation packages. Former CEO Oscar Munoz earned roughly $12,643,005 for 2019 and then-president, now-CEO Kirby was awarded $16,779,485 for 2019. Other top executives, such as the CFO, COO and CAO, earned millions too.


This article originally appeared on Forbes

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