With air travel still not back to what it was before the pandemic hit and the number of COVID-19 cases spiking, furloughs at at least three restaurants at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport could become permanent.
Aero Service Group (ASG), based in St. Louis Park, owns and operates Barrio, Lake Wine and Stone Arch at the airport. This week, it filed a WARN notice with the state of Minnesota, as required by law, stating that it may be forced to layoff up to 92 employees come Sept. 15.
The law states that if an employee is going to be furloughed for six months or longer, you have to terminate them. And you have to give them a 60-day notice on their termination, Michelle Ranum, the chief marketing and brands officer with Aero Service Group, told BMTN on Wednesday.
Those who could be laid off come September include 50 servers, bartenders and cashiers, 37 cooks, prep cooks and dishwashers, and five managers and supervisors, ASG said.
On March 15, ASG furloughed all but six of its MSP employees, totaling 177 people. Those six stayed on at Stone Arch in Terminal 1.
As passenger air travel increased, they brought back more people to work at Stone Arch and reopened Barrio in Terminal 2, although they're still "significantly" down in volume, Ranum said.
Meanwhile, ASG's Lake Wine, located in the main mall area of Terminal 1, is still closed.
"To be honest, we don't believe that will open at all in 2020," Ranum said.
ASG is currently employing 85 people at the airport, and it hopes to bring back more before September, but it all depends on what happens with the coronavirus and air travel in the weeks to come.
ASG Chief Operating Officer Bob Helman says air travel at MSP Airport is down about 75 percent when compared to pre-COVID levels. And the Star Tribune reports about 40 of the 130 concessions are open at the airport.
"ASG is hopeful that it may be able to recall more of its furloughed employees. However, this is dependant on an increase in air travel," Helman said.
While employees were furloughed, ASG has paid the premiums for those with company health benefits and will continue to do so through the end of August, Ranum said.