By Jack Fink

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Allie Malis says she wasn’t too surprised last October when she was among the 19,000 employees furloughed by American Airlines.

Now, months later, she’ll soon be returning to the skies. “My healthcare has been restored my paycheck, kind of at our contractual minimum, is coming into my bank account. So, you know, I’m not going into debt right now.”

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But as she and other employees are returning to their jobs, many of them are again receiving notices from the airline that they could be among the 13,000 employees who could be furloughed after April 1, when federal aid known as the payroll support program is set to expire.

Those who receive the notices have less seniority.

Flight attendants, pilots and maintenance workers are among the airline’s union groups impacted.

The notices are a warning, but not guaranteed to happen.

Malis isn’t one of the employees who’s received the notices, but she’s already experienced the emotional turbulence.

After being furloughed, she and her husband moved from her Washington, D.C. base to Lexington, Kentucky, for his job and where it’s cheaper to live. “To be able to plan for your family, you have to know, you know, a few months ahead that you can put food on the table and get all the bills paid so and so it’s just incredible, incredible uncertainty, instability. Not just financially, emotionally.”

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote to employees earlier this week.

They told them the airline is flying at least 45% less in the first quarter of this year than the same time period two years ago.

In their letter, the executives also said, “We fully believed that we would be looking at a summer schedule where we’d fly all of our airplanes and need the full strength of our team. Regrettably, that is no longer the case.”

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Malis also serves as a Government Affairs Representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s flight attendants.

She and others believe the industry won’t fully rebound until after most Americans get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Flight attendants are trying to get access to the vaccine but only qualify in certain states.

Malis said, “Our crews in New York and Chicago are getting the vaccine. Our crews in California and Virginia are not right now, for example. So making sure that we all have that because I might be a DC based flight attendant, but I’m laying over in Chicago, and I’m laying over in New York.”

American is offering employees early leave or long-term leaves of absence.

The more employees who participate, the fewer who may have to be furloughed.

The airline said no one would be furloughed if Congress extends the payroll support program.

Malis, whose been a flight attendant for six and a half years, said it’s not an option for her. “I’m not ready to stop being a flight attendant, and I love my job. And I think it can be a great career, especially in more stable times.”

She and many others say the stable times can’t arrive soon enough.


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