Until now, Southwest was but one of the few airlines that had not resorted to layoffs as a measure to curb the economic impact of COVID-19. (MICHAEL REYNOLDS)
Southwest Airlines, the fourth largest US airline, has asked its employees to agree to cut their pay in order to avoid forced layoffs and layoffs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The company, in a video released on Monday, appealed to unions representing around 80% of its workers to reach an agreement before January 1.
Employees whose contracts are not covered by union agreements will see their salary cut by 10% , according to CEO Gary Kelly, who announced that he will not receive any of his base salary during 2021.
“It is a shared sacrifice and this is the type of company that I think is ready for it,” Kelly defended this Tuesday in an interview on the financial channel CNBC.
Southwest Airlines boasts of never having carried out forced layoffs or layoffs and has vowed to avoid such measures this year, in contrast to other airlines that are already making significant job cuts.
In the case of Southwest, almost a third of the workforce has chosen to take advantage of a program of incentivized exits and long-term permits, according to the company reported in July.
Some 4,400 people decided to take early retirement or incentivized leave, while another 12,500 opted for leave with partial maintenance of salary or health insurance for up to 18 months.
Despite this, the company considers that the figures still do not add up given the collapse in air demand that has caused the pandemic and the lack of agreement in the US legislature for a new package of aid to the industry.
According to Kelly, Southwest's quarterly losses can be in the “billions of dollars” until there is a coronavirus vaccine that has been widely distributed, probably well into 2021.
In his statements to CNBC, the CEO assured that if the United States Congress finally approves more aid for airlines, it would reverse the salary cuts.
US airlines received a $ 25 billion ransom from the $ 2 trillion of the largest economic stimulus package in the country's history, approved last March.