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JetBlue Planning Layoffs and Outsourcing Positions at Smaller Airports

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An internal JetBlue Airways memo obtained by Business Insider details a plan for the airline to begin laying off workers on Oct. 1, 2020, and outsourcing some positions at smaller airports.

The Oct. 1 date is key, not only for JetBlue but all U.S. carriers – it’s the day when airlines become unshackled from the provisions of accepting government grants and loans as part of the CARES Act stimulus package. The government stipulated that airlines who accepted the money must keep staffing at current levels through Sept. 30.

According to Business Insider, JetBlue will trim its workforce by as many as 300 workers by laying off employees at smaller airports and outsourcing positions at those facilities, thus saving full-time salaries and benefits by utilizing part-time workers.

“This week we are having a number of conversations with smaller BlueCities where we have made the difficult decision to transition to a full Business Partner model after October 1, 2020. We will be able to share additional details next week after we have the opportunity to talk with impacted Crewmembers. Please know that we are partnering closely with the Airports Values Committee on these changes,” Mike Parkinson, vice-president of Airports Experience for JetBlue, wrote in the email. “The continued impact of coronavirus on our industry has left us no choice but to look for new ways to run our airline. This decision is in no way a reflection of our Crewmembers’ level of work in those cities who live the JetBlue Culture every day and offer the JetBlue experience our Customers love.”

The airports affected were not named but, generally, in this instance, airlines select airports with fewer flights than any other venues.

Parkinson did reiterate JetBlue’s options for employees to leave the company.

“Taking care of impacted Crewmembers is our priority. We will make sure they have the support they need to understand the transition and to consider the options we are offering, including priority transfer opportunities to stay at JetBlue, as well as our current voluntary opt out programs,” he wrote in the email.

Business Insider noted that JetBlue had three voluntary departure packages, including “opt out with perks,” “opt out with cash,” and “long-term time off” depending on time served with the airline.

The publication revealed that:

– Employees with less than 10 years of experience can choose a perks or cash-based opt-out plan. For them, the perks-based plan offers no pay upon departure, 12 months of health insurance, one year of flight benefits for every year served with a maximum of nine years, 20 one-way tickets with a guaranteed seat, and a host of other smaller payouts, such as a $500 certificate to use with JetBlue vacations.

– The cash-based plan for the same group includes continued pay, the duration of which depends on your position at the company, with the maximum being three weeks pay a year served for managers and non-managers with seven to nine years of experience. This program also includes six months of health insurance, one year of flight privileges for every year served at JetBlue with a maximum of five years, and four one-way tickets with a guaranteed seat.

– Employees with over 10 years of experience can also take their pick between a perks or cash-based plan, but the benefits are greater. The perks-based plan offers $5,000 in pay upon departure, 24 months of health insurance, nine years of flight benefits, and 20 one-way tickets with a guaranteed seat. If they choose the cash-based option, they receive continued pay for three weeks per years served at a maximum of 33 weeks. This program also includes 12 months of health insurance, seven years of flight privileges, and 10 positive-space one-way tickets.

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