Thousands Of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Jobs On Layoff Lists

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 9:33am

parked jets
Christina Estes/KJZZ
American Airlines jets at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Sept. 4, 2020.

In less than a month, thousands of people could be out of work at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.


American Airlines

The federal government’s program to keep passenger airline employees on the job expires Sept. 30. Without another stimulus, American Airlines plans to terminate 140 Phoenix employees on Oct. 1 and temporarily lay off another 1,216.

In a letter dated July 21 and sent to Phoenix, the company said the furloughs are expected to be temporary and “it is our sincere hope that this number decreases based on factors such as additional voluntary leaves of absences and voluntary early outs, or changes in the demand environment.”

In late August, American announced it would furlough or lay off 19,000 employees in October. In addition, the company said about 23,500 employees had accepted buyouts, retired early or took long-term leaves of absences. The Associated Press reported American started the year with 140,000 employees and expects fewer than 100,000 to remain in October.

sign says checkpoint closed
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Fewer flights mean some security checkpoints are closed, including Checkpoint B at Terminal 4 on Sept. 4, 2020.

United Airlines

In a July letter to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, United Airlines said it plans to cut 126 jobs at Sky Harbor on or about Oct. 1. The airline said it is “hopeful” the reductions — expected to last six month or longer — will be temporary

In its letter, the airline said: “While the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act helped to protect jobs through Sept. 30, it only covers a part of our normal monthly payroll cost and none of our sizable operating expenses.”

Alaska Airlines

In its notice to the state, Alaska Airlines said it expects to terminate 130 employees on Oct. 1 or Oct 2. Jobs include technicians at Sky Harbor and customer service and reservation agents based in Chandler.

chairs on tables at empty restaurant
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Most restaurants located before security checkpoints are closed, including Wildflower Bread Company at Terminal 4 on Sept. 4, 2020.

Food and Beverage

HMS Host and SSP America are the companies that oversee restaurant operations at Sky Harbor. According to its website, HMS Host operates in more than 120 airports around the globe and more than 80 travel plazas in North America. SSP America says it operates approximately 2,000 units in 29 countries.

SSP America

In a July letter to the city, SSP said it could lay off 429 employees beginning Sept. 24. Positions include bartenders, restaurant managers and warehouse workers Many employees have been furloughed since March and April. 

SSP said, “The separations are, hopefully, temporary. The facilities remain open in reduced numbers.” 

"The separations are, hopefully, temporary. The facilities remain open in reduced numbers."
— SSP America

HMS Host

In an August letter, HMS Host said if 533 employees are not recalled by Oct. 15 then temporary furloughs will become permanent layoffs. These jobs include cooks, cashiers, servers and operations managers.

Flying Food Group

A privately-held company that provides meals to airlines permanently laid off 96 people when it closed its Phoenix facility on May 20. In an April letter to the state, Flying Food Group cited a significant loss of business for the facility’s closure near 75th Avenue and Buckeye Road. Its website lists facilities in 15 locations across the United States.

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