Allegiant Air could not wait for Congress to pass another bailout and furloughed 100 pilots Thursday.
The only airline at the Punta Gorda Airport has blamed the pilots' union for rejecting an option that would have kept them employed but with no pay, one pilot said.
Both management and union agreed Friday that they are hoping for Congress to issue more aid to airlines. Airline aid totaling $25 billion ended Oct. 1. Back in the spring, Allegiant had received about $448 million in payroll protection and loans.
"We are still hopeful for Congressional action to extend payroll support and had proposed to delay furloughs past Oct. 1 as talks continue," Allegiant Communications Director Hilarie Grey told the Sun. "Unfortunately, the union representing our pilots ... rejected that proposal, and Allegiant furloughed 100 pilots yesterday."
Allegiant's 1,000 pilots joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in May. The airline has 1,500 flight attendants.
At least two other airlines — American and United — have also begun furloughs, Grey said.
Allegiant management was asking for major concessions from pilots, said pilot Andrew Robles, the union's executive council chair. They were asked to accept a 60% cut to their base pay, he said.
"They're trying to get us to cover their losses," Robles said.
To avoid a costly furlough, Allegiant offered to keep the pilots officially employed but with no pay, Robles said, and the furloughs would have proceeded without regard to seniority. Bringing a pilot back from a furlough is time consuming and costly, Robles said, with pilots having to get their federal security passes reissued among other things.
Both sides wanted to hold off on the furlough to see if the Senate is willing to work with a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed in the House late Thursday.
"Based on the statements that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi issued earlier today, we are optimistic about this situation being resolved through legislative action," said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division.
"I think that both sides need this deal," Bourne said, adding that flying could drop by 30-40% without the stimulus and affect up to 4.7 million jobs.
Asked how the furloughs will affect flying schedules for Allegiant, Grey said, "Adjustments that may be needed as a result are still being determined."
Flight attendants and the Transport Workers Union reached an agreement with Allegiant management and did not face furloughs or layoffs, Grey said. In their agreement, some flight attendants agreed to take "early out" and voluntary leave. Fifty-nine flight attendants opted for the early out option, she said.
Grey noted that Allegiant had originally notified the pilots union that 275 pilots will be furloughed if Congress did not extend payroll protection. The airline had 4,500 employees at the start of the pandemic and 700 took a 60-day leave.
Allegiant selected Charlotte Harbor for a $470 million resort, but halted construction this spring due to the pandemic.