Airlines are struggling to avoid laying off employees during the coronavirus crisis. However, thousands of airline and airport contract workers have already been laid off in the past week, with more layoffs.
Many of these contract workers make close to minimum wage and live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Business Insider spoke with multiple airline contractors who have been laid off in the past week. Many of them are worried they’ll be left out of any bailout package that the US government may authorize for airlines.
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Bianca Chapman has been a security queue officer at Philadelphia International Airport since 2014. The mother of five — and dog-mom of three — saw herself more as a helper, someone who assisted passengers: Guiding them to the right line, the right desk, the right gate.
At the end of her 4 a.m. to noon shift on Wednesday, she went down to her break room, and was told not to come back. She was being laid off.
The world’s airlines have seen a staggering drop in demand as the novel coronavirus has spread around the globe. As more countries close their borders and the US tells Americans to avoid unnecessary travel or physical proximity to others, air traffic has fallen, and airlines have found themselves hemorrhaging cash with no end in sight. Now they are seeking help from the government.
US airlines pledged in a letter signed by CEOs on Saturday that if the federal government grants the bailout package they’ve asked for, there would be no layoffs or furloughs before September — if at all.
However, that fails to account for the many thousands of employees who work for airport and airline contractors around the country. These workers often make less than the airlines’ own employees, but provide services like baggage handling and security, and often help passengers by pushing wheelchairs, managing check-ins, and keeping airport processes moving.
Business Insider spoke with multiple workers who have lost their jobs over the past week, or who have been warned that they will be laid off this week. As worries mount about how to make rent, provide for their families, or maintain their communities, the workers all expressed fear that they would be left behind even if a rescue package provides relief for struggling airlines and their workers.
Essential tasks outsourced for cheap
Chapman, who initially worked for McGinn Security and later SOS Security, was among the first employees who passengers would meet when they stepped out of their cabs at Philadelphia Airport. She would direct them to the right security line, make sure they had their things ready for the checkpoint, or would help them get to the right check-in counter.
“Flying is stressful enough,” she said. “I’d just help to keep everything at ease. I was always that security officer who was there waiting for my passengers.”
She liked being helpful, and being social.
“It really was a fun job,” she added. “Just meeting all different types of people, every day was a learning experience.”
Chapman said that she could see the …read more
Source:: Business Insider