The four major US airlines have been forced to cut tens of thousands of flights from their schedule next month as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cripple the industry.

American Airlines on Tuesday confirmed it has removed 86,000 – or 46 per cent – of flights from its November schedule as it struggles to cope with low demand. 

The company’s Chicago-based rival, United Airlines has also reduced its flight plan for the same time period by 52 per cent, The Dallas Morning News reported.  

United Airlines has been forced to slash its flights by 52 per cent in November, after it furloughed 13,000 employees

United Airlines has been forced to slash its flights by 52 per cent in November, after it furloughed 13,000 employees  

American Airlines confirmed on Tuesday it has cut 46 per cent - or 86,000 - flights from its operating schedule next month as it struggles to cope with low demand

American Airlines confirmed on Tuesday it has cut 46 per cent – or 86,000 – flights from its operating schedule next month as it struggles to cope with low demand  

The reduction means United now has the smallest number of flights operating next month out of the four major carriers, with 72,566.  

American, meanwhile, will carry out a total of 99,362 flights in November, the largest of the companies, despite the cuts. 

‘We’re constantly evaluating our network to match supply and demand and have been making regular schedule adjustments since March,’ American Airlines spokeswoman Nichelle Tait said in a statement on Tuesday. 

‘In an effort to match low demand resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), we continue to operate a reduced schedule in November.’  

The adjustments mean the airlines next month will roughly match the number of flights for September and October, which tends to be a slower period for the industry before the holidays.  

Delta has also reported flight reductions after it previously said it was exploring the possibility of furloughs for about 2,000 of its pilots.    

Southwest Airlines, the fourth-biggest US airline by revenue, also reduced the number of its flights in November by 36 per cent, the paper reported. 

The news comes just days after both United and American announced plans to furlough a combined 32,000 employees after lawmakers failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package that includes more federal aid for the industry.   

Southwest Airlines, the fourth-biggest US airline by revenue, also reduced the number of its flights in November by 36 per cent

Southwest Airlines, the fourth-biggest US airline by revenue, also reduced the number of its flights in November by 36 per cent

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said 19,000 workers would be furloughed beginning last Thursday in a letter to staff after money from the CARES Act provided to airlines in the spring expired last Wednesday. 

‘I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,’ Parker wrote in the letter. ‘It is not what you all deserve.’

Parker had said the company would reverse the decision if Washington was able  come up with a stimulus package that allocates $25billion to airlines ‘over the next few days’. 

United last week also said the Congressional impasse forced it to furlough 13,000 workers, and similarly to American, it told leaders in the Trump administration and Congress that if payroll aid was approved in the next few days, it too could undo the furloughs.

‘We implore our elected leaders to reach a compromise, get a deal done now, and save jobs,’ the company said in a message to staff.

Industry analysts have said the four largest US airlines – American, United, Delta and Southwest – lost a combined $10billion in the second quarter of this year.

Southwest earlier said it did not plan to lay off any employees through the end of the year.

CEO Gary Kelly on Monday however, announced the company will cut pay for nonunion workers in January and says union workers must also accept less pay or face furloughs next year.

Kelly warned that unless the federal government gives airlines more money, Southwest will have to sharply cut spending to avoid losing billions of dollars every quarter until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines - American, United, Delta and Southwest - lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year

Industry analysts said the four largest U.S. airlines – American, United, Delta and Southwest – lost a combined $10 billion in the second quarter of this year

‘We would have to wipe out a large swath of salaries, wages and benefits to match the low traffic levels to have any hope of just breaking even,’ Kelly said in a video to employees. 

Air travel is down nearly 70 per cent from a year ago.

Union officials said the company should find options other than pay cuts.

Southwest recently said it is burning about $17million a day. It lost $915million in the second quarter and borrowed billions while cutting back on flights to conserve cash.

Kelly said he won’t get a base salary through 2021 and non-union employees will see a 10 per cent pay cut on January 1 to avoid layoffs through 2021. 

Southwest will negotiate similar cuts from union workers, who represent about 85 per cent of the workforce. 



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