United Airlines could furlough up to one-third of employees

Aviation International News has reported United Airlines has announced up to 36,000 employees, or one-third of the company´s workforce, could face involuntary furlough starting October 1, the news source said.

The announcement comes as management attempts to avoid financial ruin amid the continuing Covid-19 crisis.

The furlough warnings apply to 15,100 flight attendants, 2,250 pilots, 5,500 mechanics, and some 11,000 airport operations employees.

United said it cannot continue at its current payroll level in such a depressed travel demand environment and called the move a last resort. Airlines that accepted funds under the payroll provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act may not lay off employees until October 1.

In a letter to United´s pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association´s Master Executive Council reported that it has intensely focused on securing a so-called early-out package that will mitigate furloughs by encouraging pilots to retire early. It also said it has begun finalizing provisions for voluntary furloughs and company-offered leaves of absences (COLAs) for pilots willing to temporarily step back from active flying.

Association of Flight Attendants called the number of job reductions sought by United overreaching, excessive, and punitive and not commensurate with the company´s other employee groups or with other airlines´ planned measures.