US carrier Southwest Airlines has warned furloughs for more than 6,800 employees, equating to 12% of its staff.

The airline has issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices to 1,221 pilots, 1,500 flight attendants, 1,176 customer service staff, and more than 2,551 ramp workers, cargo and other operation staff, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Southwest Airlines labour relations vice-president Russell McCrady was quoted by the publication as saying: “We have been engaged with our unions since early October seeking temporary cost reductions to help offset over $1bn of overstaffing costs projected for 2021.

“Our absolute goal is to preserve every job at Southwest Airlines; however, due to a lack of meaningful progress in negotiations, we had to proceed with issuing notifications to additional employees who are valued members of the Southwest family.”

McCrady was further quoted as saying that the carrier is ‘willing to continue negotiations quickly to preserve jobs if we can achieve the support that allows Southwest to combat the ongoing economic challenges created by the decline in demand for air travel’.

The news came one month after the carrier sent notices of potential furloughs to 42 parts inventory workers, as well as more than 400 Southwest Airlines mechanics and technicians.

In October, US carrier Delta Air Lines reportedly entered a preliminary cost-cutting agreement with a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Delta MEC, which prevents the carrier to avoid furloughing employees until 1 January 2022.