404 airport workers get layoff notices starting in October

There’s a silence around Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport with fewer travelers and fewer planes coming and going. And that silence is now leading to what many workers feared.

"It’s fair to say this is been going on since March, and the workers understand that, they’re not seeing the traveling public come through the airport and so I think in a sense it’s not a huge surprise," said Wade Luneburg, political director for UNITEHERE Local 17, the union for hospitality workers.

HMS Host, with workers at MSP, alerted the state that more than 400 hospitality workers would be let go starting Oct. 15.

"They are the people that you pass all the time in the airport, the folks that cook and serve for you, those folks are all being impacted today," Luneburg said.

MSP continues to see low passenger levels as pandemic drags on

In a letter about the layoffs, HMS Host wrote, "The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel and restaurant industries… never in the history of aviation and the hospitality industry, have we experienced such catastrophic customer traffic declines."

Since March, Luneburg said only 10% of concessions employees have been working, which is roughly 150 out of 1,100.

"With business class travel still totally in flux and leisure travel just kind of blinking back on, the floor at the airport has changed dramatically," he said.

HMS Host issued a statement about the layoffs that read in part:

"The recent surge in COVID-19 cases nationally has stalled passenger traffic, and there is no short-term end in sight to the economic crisis."

Many of the workers have been furloughed for many weeks, and the permanent layoffs begin in mid-October.