Hundreds of contract workers at Philadelphia International Airport are getting laid off as flight cancellations soar because of the spreading coronavirus, a labor union official said.
Gabe Morgan of Local 32BJ of Service Employees International Union said some workers received layoff notices and estimated that 600 to 1,000 of its members will be laid off.
One airport passenger service assistant, Herbert Stewart, says he fears he will be laid off next,
“As Americans, we’ve got to have faith,” he said. “That’s all we can do, is have faith.”
Airport spokesperson Florence Brown would not speculate about potential job cuts by the companies that operate there.
The largest portion of the workers are employed by American Airlines subcontractors PrimeFlight Aviation and Prospect Airport Services.
Prospect Airport Services Inc. said it would begin layoffs at the Philadelphia Airport starting March 22.
In a statement, Prospect said demand for its services at the airport has fallen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but hoped the layoffs would be temporary.
The union represents 1,400 subcontracted workers such as wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at the airport. Morgan said the layoff is expected to affect between 50 and 80 percent of all those workers.
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