On Wednesday, United Airlines warned it may need to furlough nearly half of its workforce by the fall.
The number amounts to 45% of the airline's total workforce and includes 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 gate agents and customer service reps, 5,550 maintenance workers and 2,250 pilots.
United is calling the layoffs “involuntary furloughs” because most of the affected employees would be able to return to work once travel demand picks up again, the outlet noted.
Under the CARES Act, United reportedly received $5 billion in bail out funds and payroll protection. A provision of receiving the aid was that airlines could not layoff, furlough or cut the salaries of workers until October 1.
“The reality is that United simply cannot continue at our current payroll level past October 1 in an environment where travel demand is so depressed,” the airline said in the memo, according to CNBC. “And involuntary furloughs come as a last resort, after months of company-wide cost-cutting and capital-raising.”
The notices were sent because federal law mandates employers notify workers 60 days prior to a mass layoff.
The actual number of employees that will be furloughed won’t be known until mid to late August.
Air travel has drastically decreased since the start of the pandemic in March. While the July 4th weekend was the busiest in months, it was still down by more than 70% compared to last year.