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More layoffs in Texas at Southwest Airlines, Hilite International

Southwest Airlines furloughing additional 827 workers; Texas auto parts supplier closes facility

Southwest Airlines sent furlough notices to more than 800 workers across Texas on Friday, including freight agents at four different airports. (Photo: Southwest)

Disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and budget cuts will cost an additional 1,063 people their jobs, according to a new round of worker reduction notices to state officials on Friday.

According to reports, Southwest Airlines, auto parts supplier Hilite Industries Automotive and grocery store chain Tom Thumb are among the businesses that have conducted layoffs in recent days.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) has issued 1,322 furlough warnings to employees across Texas since the beginning of November.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated domestic air travel and tourism. As a result, Southwest Airlines has lost billions of dollars in revenues since the pandemic began,” according to documents filed Friday.

Southwest officials said they have been unable to reach an agreement with unions representing pilots, flight simulator technicians, mechanics and transport workers over wage cuts.

“As a result, Southwest must unfortunately involuntarily furlough pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents, customer representatives, ramp agents, operations agents, provisioning agents, freight agents, and flight simulator techs,” the company said. “The involuntary furloughs will take place next year unless we reach cost-saving agreements.”

The Southwest furloughs will include:

  • 465 workers at Dallas Love Field Airport.
  • 54 at Houston’s Hobby Airport.
  • 77 at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
  • 36 at San Antonio International Airport.

Southwest Airlines also sent notices to 106 customer service and support workers in San Antonio and 79 in Houston that they could also be furloughed by March 15.

Hilite Industries Automotive said it will be permanently closing its facility at 1671 S. Broadway, in Carrollton, Texas, and laying off 137 workers.

According to its website, the Hilite facility in Carrollton makes rotors for cam phasers, assembles cam phasers and makes brake valve assemblies.

Hilite officials did not specify why they are shutting down the plant in Carrollton but said layoffs are expected to begin Jan. 19 and be completed by Aug. 26. 

Tom Thumb, a chain of supermarkets in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, said it will terminate the jobs of 97 fleet drivers and driving trainers by Feb. 27. The drivers affected specialize in online home fulfillment grocery delivery.

The company plans to shift to third-party delivery services, officials said. Laid-off drivers  will be able to apply for other jobs at Tom Thumb stores, plants and distribution centers, according to the filing. 

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]