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United And American Airlines Tell 32,000 Employees They're Now On Furlough

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"To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back," United told employees, as CARES Act payroll aid was set to expire.

United Airlines and American Airlines have sent furlough notices to a total of more than 32,000 employees, saying they can't afford to have them on payroll after Thursday – the expiration date for the federal CARES Act Payroll Support Program.

"To our departing 13,000 family members: thank you for your dedication and we look forward to welcoming you back," United said in a message sent to employees Wednesday night that it also shared with NPR.

American sent a similar message to 19,000 employees, the Associated Press reports, with CEO Doug Parker saying the furloughs could be reversed if Washington manages to reach a new business aid package.

The government's pandemic relief effort had provided some $25 billion in loans and grants to airlines, which quickly racked up billions in losses after the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down most of the travel industry in March.

"Congress has been negotiating another stimulus bill to address the economic impact of COVID-19 and there is strong bipartisan support," United said. But it added that despite a broad industry push to extend the CARES Act, "Congress has still not taken action."

United sent involuntary furlough notices to 13,432 employees, with roughly half of them from its inflight services division.

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