United Airlines has announced plans to furlough 16,370 of its workers due to the continued impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on airline operations. Staff likely to be affected include 6,920 flight attendants, 2,850 pilots, 2,260 airport operations personnel, 2,010 mechanics and 1,400 in management. The furloughs will be enacted as early as October, in line with the expiration of restrictions laid out in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. United also stated that an extension of CARES Act payroll provisions would prevent involuntary furloughs at the airline.
“The pandemic has drawn us in deeper and lasted longer than almost any expert predicted, and in an environment where travel demand is so depressed, United cannot continue with staffing levels that significantly exceed the schedule we fly,” the airlines wrote in a memo to employees. “Sadly, we don’t expect demand to return to anything resembling normal until there is a widely available treatment or vaccine.”
Enacted last March, the CARES Act designated $25 billion in financial assistance for passenger air carriers. To be eligible for assistance, airlines were prohibited from conducting involuntary furloughs or reducing employee pay rates and benefits until Sep. 30, 2020. As previously reported by AVweb, American and Delta have also announced plans to reduce their workforces beginning Oct. 1.