American Airlines and United Airlines say they will furlough 32,000 workers between them because negotiations in Washington have failed to produce more federal aid for the industry.
Airlines have lost billions of dollars because of a steep slump in travel during the pandemic.
The airlines and their labor unions are lobbying for another $25 billion in taxpayer money to pay workers for six more months, through next March.
They have already received $25 billion in payroll help, but that money — and a related ban on furloughs — ends Thursday.
Congressional Democrats and the White House are still far apart on a larger relief bill that could include airline aid.