In accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) has sent notices to 25,000 of its mainline staff advising them of potential furloughs after October 1, 2020.

"With infection rates increasing and several states reestablishing quarantine restrictions, demand for air travel is slowing again... We hope to reduce the actual number of furloughs significantly through enhanced leave and early-out programs for represented workgroups, which we are announcing today," Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote in an internal memo.

The number of staff included in the potential redundancies amounts to 29% of the airline's employees. The bulk of the layoffs will be among cabin crew, of whom 9,950 (or 37% of all) could be furloughed. The airline also sent notices to 4,500 fleet service employees, 3,200 maintenance staff, and 2,500 pilots.

Under the terms of the WARN Act, employees have to notify staff 60 days in advance of any potential furloughs. However, a WARN notice is not always equivalent to an actual lay off as airlines tend to err on the side of caution.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents AA's pilots, called the news "brutal" and strongly criticised the employer for its decision to partner with JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) in the US North-East. It said that it was impossible to "imagine a more horridly timed announcement", referring to the fact that JetBlue's pilots negotiated a no-furlough agreement with their airline through May 2021.

Airlines in the United States are banned from furloughing staff until September 30 by the terms of the federal support programme under the CARES Act. However, many carriers have already warned that furloughs will happen once the moratorium expires. This has spurred a widespread lobbying effort to extend the payroll support programme through March 2021, organised by the unions but backed by the airlines themselves.

Industry blog View from the Wing reported that Republic Airways (YX, Indianapolis Int'l), which operates regional services on behalf of all three major US carriers, sent WARN notices to 40% of its staff.