I’m One of Thousands of Furloughed Pilots Who Need a CARES Act Extension before October 1, 2020

 Special guest commentary by F/O Karen Lacy (DAL)

Like most airline pilots, aviation is in my blood. My paternal grandparents had their private pilots’ licenses, and my dad has his private pilot license and was a PATCO air traffic controller. Looking back, there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t interested in flying. I went to college for aviation, but I started shortly before 9/11 so the job market was pretty bleak when I graduated. I tried several nonflying jobs, but nothing felt “right” until I started flight instructing in my spare time. Before too long, I took the plunge and began my career at a U.S. regional carrier. After a several years, I was hired by a major U.S. airline, and I was thrilled to finally be at my dream job.

But now that dream job is turning into a nightmare. The impact of COVID-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for many of our nation’s industries, but airlines have been hit exceptionally hard.

Being an airline pilot is more than just a job. I met my husband while working, and I had my first baby while we were pilots. What I do for a living makes up so much of who I am. And today, I know that on October 1 I will be out of a job.

After Congress passed the CARES Act earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of aviation workers were able to avoid layoffs because the money dedicated to the Payroll Support Program went straight to paying salaries for frontline employees. But that money runs out at the end of the month and, to date, Congress and the White House have yet to reach an agreement on extending this successful program that has kept numerous families afloat during these difficult times.

On October 1, tens of thousands of airline workers will no longer have a job. So far, more than 11,000 ALPA pilots have received a furlough notice and I am one of those. For those of us effected, we are worried about what the future holds. Right now, we are having to make difficult decisions about the future of our families and are doing everything we can now to prepare. For me, I am currently working on getting my real estate license so that while I am on furlough, I can earn an income.

Things don’t look good right now for pilots and our industry, but I’m trying to be hopeful. I hope that before too long, people will feel comfortable traveling again. I hope that I get called back to flying soon. I hope that Congress reads the hundreds of thousands of letters that my fellow pilots and our families and friends have sent urging for a clean extension of the program that has kept so many of us employed until now.

A lot of people have asked how they can help. Right now, the biggest thing you can do is join ALPA and tell Congress to support U.S. aviation jobs before it is too late. October 1 is quickly approaching and the effects that this massive round of furloughs will have on our industry, on our families, and within our communities is going to be devastating unless Congress acts soon. Join us today and ask Congress to support a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program through March 31, 2021, to bolster not only the aviation industry and its workers but also to support our nation’s economic recovery.


Categories: Industry