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Airline job cuts rise amid pandemic

Major airlines on both sides of the Atlantic are cutting even more jobs as they struggle to cope with a plunge in air travel that will leave the airline industry much smaller than it was before the coronavirus pandemic and economic collapse.

EasyJet said Thursday that it will cut up to one-third of its 15,000 employees. The London-based budget airline’s CEO said he had no choice.

“We do it to make sure that easyJet not only survives through this period, but also comes out of this as a strong and competitive company,” Johan Lundgren said. “This is still the worst crisis that this industry has ever been faced with. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty going forward.”

American Airlines, meanwhile, plans to cut its 17,000 management and support staff by 30% — about 5,100 jobs. That could include layoffs in October if there aren’t enough takers for a buyout offer.

Executive Vice President Elise Eberwein said in a memo to employees that nearly 39,000 other employees have signed up for partially paid leave or early retirement, and the airline is extending a buyout offer to administrative staff. Laid-off workers will be paid through Sept. 30 to comply with a no-furloughs provision attached to $5.8 billion in government aid that American is getting to help cover payroll costs.

Delta Air Lines said Thursday that it will extend early-retirement and buyouts offers in a bid to limit layoffs in the fall.

About 40,000 of Delta’s 91,000 employees have already agreed to take unpaid leave.

“While we never dreamed just a few months ago that we would be talking about a smaller Delta — this was expected to be a year of growth, after all — this is the reality we’re facing,” CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees.

It’s not just airlines. Boeing announced that it will eliminate about 13,000 jobs worldwide, including sending layoff notices this week to 6,770 U.S. employees, because of falling demand for new planes.

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