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Thousands Of Airline Employees Facing Furloughs As Clock Runs Out On Federal COVID-19 Aid

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - At the stroke of midnight on Thursday, airlines across America will furlough tens thousands of workers, citing the Congress's failure to negotiate another multi-billion dollar coronavirus relief package. Many of those workers may be facing layoffs.

The airlines have asked Congress for another $25 billion to pay workers for six months, but talks stalled between Republicans and Democrats and the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act expires on October 1.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker sent a letter to employees Wednesday evening announcing the airline would begin to furlough some 19,000 employees on Thursday.

"I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome," wrote Parker. "It is not what you all deserve."

Similarly, United Airlines sent notices to its employees, saying it would furlough some 13,000 workers, lamenting, "Today is a very sad day for all of us here at United."

Layoffs are usually permanent. Furloughs, on the other hand, are usually for a shorter period of time. Employees tell workers to stop coming in or that their hours are cut.

Last April, American and United, along with Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, SkyWest Airlines and Southwest Airlines received the first $25 billion bailout from Congress to help pay workers during the shutdown.

The airlines say they are losing billions because of a sharp drop in travel during the pandemic.

It is unclear exactly how many airline workers in the Bay Area will be impacted. American and United both have flights to and from Oakland and San Francisco International Airports.

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