Potential Pilot Furloughs Update

Percentage of Potential Pilot Furloughs
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Trans States Airlines became the first to shut its door in April due to the effect of the pandemic on US economy. HQ in Bridgeton, MO. It transported 3.5 million passengers annually. It had 47 E145s. Trans States had about 603 pilots.

Compass was the second US Airlines to shut its door. HQ in Minneapolis, MN. Founded in 2007. It had 581 pilots.

ExpressJet could be next to shut its door with the recent announcement by United Airlines to cancel their contracts by year end. It has 1,375 pilots.

Here are a list of current airlines that have sent WARN letters to their pilots to warn them of the potential furlough as of October 1st.

  1. United Airlines 3,900 Pilots (Total 13,300 Pilots)
  2. Delta Air Lines 2,500 Pilots (Total 14,600 Pilots)
  3. American Airlines 2,500 Pilots (Total 15,176 Pilots)
  4. Allegiant 275 Pilots (Total 1,021 Pilots)
  5. Repuplic Airways 933 Pilots with 400 Captain Downgrades. They’re closing their IAH and MCI crew domiciles (Total 2,461 Pilots)
  6. Hawaiian Airlines 15-25% of Pilots (Total 864 Pilots)
  7. Spirit 20-30% of Pilots (Total 2,598 Pilots)
  8. Frontier 500 Pilots (Total 1,493 Pilots)
  9. Piedmont Airlines 15% of Pilots with 40 Captain Downgrades (Total 746 Pilots)
  10. PSA 730 Pilots with the closure of TYS and ORF domiciles. (Total 2,041 Pilots)
  11. Envoy 350 Pilots (Total 2,500 Pilots)
  12. GoJet 35% to 50% of Pilots (Total 600 Pilots)

For the majors, Southwest and Alaska Airlines are the two that have announced that they will not be furloughing pilots this year.

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Delta Air Lines seeks to lower pilot’s hours to avoid furloughs

Delta is proposing a 15% reduction in pilot’s monthly hours to save some of their pilot jobs. The federal aid will expire in October 1st, in which case, the airlines can start furloughing their pilots. WARN notices, which is not a furlough notice, has been sent out by the big 3 airlines.

Photo by Nitin Dhumal on Pexels.com

According to an article written by CNBC Airline Reporter Leslie Josephs, Delta Air Lines is looking to reduce pilot’s minimum guaranteed hours to avoid furloughs.

So far more than 1,700 Delta Air Lines pilots have signed up for the early retirements. This is more than the 730 plus pilots from American Airlines who took the early retirements. However, no data has been provided on how many pilots Delta Air Lines has awarded the early retirements.

Will the amount of pilots taking the early retirement be enough to save jobs? You can read more about it by clicking here.

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TSA 2020 Passenger Count Is Trending Up

Prior to the COVID-19 bringing the whole world to a halt, the airline business was good as usual. Obviously all that has changed. The bailout from the government has defered airlines from furloughing their employees until the end of September. However, furlough warning notices have been sent by some of the biggest airlines in the world. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have both sent warning letter to their employees. Delta is looking to furlough over 2,500 pilots and United is looking to furlough over 2,200 pilots. Both companies have also sent out tens of thousands of furlough warning notices to their flight attendants and other ground workers. American Airlines is expected to do so next week. Rumors have their numbers to be around 1,600 pilots. Only time will tell.

Now furlough warning notices are not necessarily the final decision that the airlines make to furlough their employees. In fact, it merely serves as an administrative compliance. Federal law requires airlines to notify their employees 60 days in advance. Some airlines are contractually obligated to their pilots to notify them 90 days out. Whether or not the airlines will ultimately have to furlough their employees including pilots will depend on a lot of variables. When it comes to their pilots, the airlines will be willing to keep pilot overages a little bit longer than their other employees. Simply because for pilots, their skill is perishable. Each month that goes by, pilot skills degrade. Also, a lot of the legacy airlines such as the DAL, UAL and AAL, have a lot of different types of aircrafts. Even with the recent downsizing of their fleets, most still have multiple narrowbody aircrafts and multiple widebody aircrafts. With the fleet downsizing, pilots have been displaced as well in reverse senority order. Junior widebody First Officer may be displaced to either a Captain seat or a First Officer seat on a narrowbody. All the seat shuffling will require trainings that could cost the airlines millions of dollars. Therefore, the airlines will not furlough pilots simply because they are fat on pilots for 6months or even 1 year. Other variables such as future customer booking, market shares and union contracts are some examples of the big factors that airlines will have to consider prior to furloughing their pilots.

Below is the data from the TSA 2020 passenger count. A link at the bottom of this page can be used to obtain the data below.

Figure 1. TSA 2020 & 2019 Passengers Count

The graph shows that the “blue” passenger count is trending up. One month ago, the percentage of traveler compared with the previous year was at 13.9%. Another month prior, that number was 8.5%. Three months ago, the number was 4.1% during the peak of the shutdown. Yesterday, the percentage of traveler was sitting at 27.2% of the previous year.

While the trend is up, we are still short of the previous year by roughly 1.8 million passengers. As an airline employee, I cannot say that I am jubilant about where we are now. Certainly, not when millions of people are infected, hundreds of thousands have perished because of the coronavirus, and many more are fighting through it as you are reading this article.

Now something to keep in mind as you look at the TSA passenger count data is that it includes flight crew as well. The number of flight crew should not make any meaningful difference in the passenger count. After all, on aircraft of 160 passengers, you have 6 crews. So even adjusted for the flight crews who are traveling to work and for leisure, the number of passengers still outweigh the amount of flight crews going through their security line.

You can access the TSA Passenger Count here.

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