American Airlines will furlough up to 19,000 employees on October 1, the airline said in a memo to staff on Tuesday, unless Congress extends the CARES Act’s payroll support program.

“Today is the hardest message we have had to share so far – the announcement of involuntary staffing reductions effective October 1,” chief executive Doug Parker and airline president Robert Isom wrote in a memo to employees, which was attached to an SEC announcement related to the move.  In the memo Parker and Isom said that the CARES package had been set-up in the expectation that COVID 19 would be under control by  October.

“That is obviously not the case. Based on current demand levels, we at American now plan to fly less than 50% of our airline in the fourth quarter, with long-haul international particularly reduced to only 25% of 2019 levels. So, as September 30 approaches, we have announced reductions in service, including the complete elimination of service to certain markets in early October, and today we are announcing the related reductions in our workforce,” the duo said.

The furloughs include 17,500 front-line employees, as well as 1,500 management and support workers, whose furloughs were announced in late June. About 1,600 pilots, 8,100 flight attendants, and 2,225 fleet service specialists are included in the front-line furloughs.

American is just the latest airline to predict bad news. Earlier this summer, United Airlines said that it could furlough up to 36,000 staff, while Delta is looking at furloughing 1,941 pilots in October.

The airline did say that an extension of the payroll support mechanism (PSP)  would change the situation.

“The one possibility of avoiding these involuntary reductions on October 1 is a clean extension of the PSP. Led by your labour unions, with the support of the industry, we have generated enormous bipartisan support for such an extension.

The overwhelming majority of members of both the U.S. House and Senate appreciate that saving jobs in the airline industry through this crisis will mean a quicker economic recovery in the months and years ahead. And that preserving these essential service jobs will also mean continued commercial air service to all communities, small and large,” the two executives said in the memo.

American has received $5.8 billion in CARES Act support so far.