NEW YORK (AP) — Delta Air Lines will use its frequent flyer program to back up $6.5 billion in funding as the pandemic continues to buffet air travel.

A sharp drop in travel has left the airlines with tens of thousands more employees than they need to operate the vastly reduced number of flights. This spring, the airlines began receiving $25 billion in federal grants and loans to keep workers on their payrolls for six months. With that money ending Sept. 30, the three biggest US carriers are expected to furlough or lay off about 40,000 workers.

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