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American Flight Attendants, Pilots Take Leaves or Retire

This isn't the way anyone planned to go, union says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2020 6:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – Pilots and flight attendants have accepted American Airline's offers of voluntary leave or early retirement by the thousands. With air travel evaporated during the pandemic, more than 700 pilots took early retirement and 4,800 took a leave of one to six months. All include benefits, and many partial pay under varying terms, USA Today reports. The figures came from the union, which represents more than 15,000 pilots for the airline. "The suddenness of their departure is a bit unsettling," the union told its members, "as this wasn't what any of us had planned." The flight attendants union said almost 7,000 of its members took one or the other; their leaves are from three months to a year. Their terms also include full benefits and partial pay. At least 100 of American's flight attendants and 41 of its pilots have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The federal government is proposing to help US airlines meet their payrolls, to the tune of $25 billion total. American, which has the most employees, is asking for $6 billion of that, per Reuters; airlines would have to repay 30% of the payroll aid. Under the terms, the government could end up owning 3% of American. (Read more airline industry stories.)

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