Spirit warns about lay­offs, Ex­pressJet loses key deal

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By David Koenig

Spirit Air­lines has warned up to 30% of its em­ploy­ees that they will lose their jobs in Oc­to­ber, and re­gional car­rier Ex­pressJet’s fu­ture is in doubt af­ter los­ing a key con­tract as the virus pan­demic con­tin­ues to ham­mer the air­line in­dus­try.

Spirit is the lat­est air­line to de­liver lay­off warn­ings to em­ploy­ees, which are re­quired by fed­eral law 60 days be­fore large-scale cuts.

The Florida-based bud­get air­line said it told unions that about 20% to 30% of its pi­lots, flight at­ten­dants and other groups will be fur­loughed in Oc­to­ber. The air­line did not give a num­ber. It had 9,100 em­ploy­ees at the start of the year. Spirit said it hopes to re­store the jobs even­tu­ally.

In July, United Air­lines is­sued lay­off warn­ings for 36,000 em­ploy­ees, and it warned pi­lots this week of pos­si­ble ad­di­tional job losses in 2020 and 2021. Amer­i­can Air­lines no­ti­fied 25,000 work­ers that they could be fur­loughed in Oc­to­ber, when bil­lions in fed­eral money to help cover pay­roll costs ex­pires.

Air­lines are slash­ing costs, get­ting fed­eral aid and bor­row­ing on pri­vate credit mar­kets to sur­vive a down­turn in U.S. air travel that hit 95% in April. Hopes for a re­cov­ery have dimmed in re­cent weeks with a resur­gence of re­ported cases of COVID-19 in many states, which ended two months of growth in air travel.

The re­trench­ment threat­ens an­other small U.S. air­line. Ex­pressJet’s sur­vival was in doubt af­ter United dropped its con­tract with Ex­pressJet and con­sol­i­dated its United Ex­press op­er­a­tions un­der af­fil­i­ate Com­mutAir. United spokesman Charles Ho­bart said the change will take a “num­ber of months.”

Ex­pressJet spokesman Gary Cam­bre said the air­line ex­pects to con­tinue nor­mal op­er­a­tions through the rest of this year. “We will now ex­plore all op­tions for the fu­ture of our com­pany in 2021,” he said in an emailed state­ment.

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