It is a crazy time to be employed by an airline! Thanks to COVID-19, many major U.S. airlines are getting ready to furlough or even fire their employees. Delta Air Lines recently announced that they would be furloughing up to 17,000 employees. American Airlines- around 25,000 employees, and United Airlines- up to 36,000.
One of the ways that my employer is trying to avoid this is by offering an extended time-off program. They are allowing us to take 6, 12, or up to 18 months off. In this program, the employee will continue to make a portion of his or her income. They will also get to keep all of their travel and health benefits. So far, Southwest has never had a single furlough- this is something that most airlines cannot boast. I hope it stays that way, so I’m going to do my part… tomorrow I will find out if I will be given the next 12 months off.
There is always a chance that those who are granted this time away will be called back. This is, of course, based on the need of the company. My guess is that this is going to happen. Once the pandemic dies down (perhaps one day after the election in November?), we will be filling our planes to capacity again. We have so many new planes ordered, and I know that the Denver base is about to grow. When this growth starts, those on this extended leave will be given a 30-day notice that we need to come back.
I will update again soon and let you know what I find out!