The COVID-19 pandemic has a devastating effect on the global air industry. While it became evident that airlines will suffer a long-lasting impact, more and more airlines announced job cuts and layoffs as a necessary response to the crisis. 

With passenger numbers on an all-time low, parked aircraft, and travel restrictions, airlines are undergoing the biggest crisis ever. And there is no day without news from airlines about countermeasures. Obviously, layoffs and job cuts are measures many airlines —unfortunately— have to take. We took a closer look at the world’s biggest airlines and went through the latest announcement. Here’s what we found out.

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Airline Layoffs — A Summary

Before we get into the details, here’s a quick summary of what we found out:

  • Chinese airlines seem to handle the crisis better or are less impacted. As a result, China’s biggest airlines, China Southern and China Eastern have (currently) no plans to cut jobs.
  • Although not included in the list, we couldn’t find any Chinese airlines’ announcements about job layoffs.
  • Low-cost airlines seem to handle the crisis in a better way compared to legacy/network carrier. Accordingly, job cuts are marginal compared to network carriers.
  • With up to 40,000, Lufthansa Group is leading the list of most significant job cuts.

Airline Layoffs — The Details

And here are the detailed plans of the twelve biggest airlines in the world when it comes to job cuts. The numbers are based on our research between 5th and 6th October.

AirlineCountryNumber Of Layoffs
Delta AirlinesUnited StatesNot yet decided
American AirlinesUnited States19,000
Lufthansa GroupGermany40,000
United AirlinesUnited States12,000
Air France / KLMFrance7,500
IAGSpain, United Kingdom13,000
Southwest AirlinesUnited StatesNo plans yet
China SouthernChinaNo plans yet
All Nippon AirlinesJapanNo plans yet
China EasternChinaNo plans yet
EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates10,000


And if you are up to the details, here are the links to the news article that contain the numbers shown above.

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Benjamin is a content-maniac, music-lover, aviation-enthusiast, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions to change the way airlines, airports, and aviators use information. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry and working with renowned airlines + airports worldwide.