a man wearing a suit and tie: Ed Bastian


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Ed Bastian

The airline hasn’t had the massive layoffs of the other major airlines in part because it gave employees a choice.

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It’s a rough time to be an airline.

Look no further than the decisions by United and American to impose massive layoffs and furloughs that began on October 1. That was the date airlines had agreed to when they received assistance from the U.S. government. Between them, those two companies say as many as 35,000 employees may lose their jobs, at least in the short term.

While the airline industry has pushed for a second round of aid to preserve jobs through next March, it’s unclear whether that will happen. The President tweeted that he believes Congress should provide $25 billion for airlines despite previously indicating that there would be no further pandemic-related assistance package until after the election.

Of all the businesses affected by the pandemic, I think it’s fair to say that airlines have faced some of the greatest challenges. Not only are people simply not traveling as much (or at all), but when they do, airlines face the enormous responsibility of keeping them safe.

That combination of decreased demand and increased safety expenses makes it very hard for airlines to make money. As the entire industry has canceled flights and reduced overall capacity, it may seem logical that the quickest way to reduce expenses is to furlough employees.

Delta, however, is taking a different approach. It said in September that it will avoid furloughing flight attendants, and has delayed any pilot reductions until at least November 1. That is largely the result of the company’s