MIAMI – The Airline Pilot’s Association announced that Pilots at United Airlines (UA) voted in favor of the Pandemic Recovery Letter of Agreement, canceling the 2,850 scheduled furloughs.

In order to do this, UA and its Pilots have agreed to spread flying hours among the aviators. In addition, the agreement offers Pilots over the age of 50 early separation. 

Capt. Todd Insler, United ALPA Master Executive Council chairman said, “Our members understood that in order to protect pilot jobs, we needed to approve this agreement.”

He continued, “We’re spreading the existing flying among our Pilot group while locking in permanent contractual gains. I am proud of our Pilots for showing the unity and resolve needed in the face of uncertainty.”

The airline is still set to furlough around 12,000 Flight Attendants, mechanics, and other union employees.

United Airlines Boeing 787-9 N29978 at San Francisco International Airport. | Photo: Luca Flores


In April, US Airlines received US$25bn in aid to help offset the tremendous loss of demand airlines faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The vote comes just days before federal funding through the US$25bn CARES Act is set to expire. Although new legislation has been proposed, Congress has not yet reached any agreement on any future aid.

Therefore, time is of the essence for lobbyists and legislators to put forward legislation for additional funding and restrictions on employee furloughs. New legislation could prevent any furloughs from happening until the spring of next year.

United Airlines Airbus A319 | Photo: Luke Ayers

US Airlines Hit Hard

Airlines and the travel industry have been one of the hardest-hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Global and domestic restrictions and lockdowns have caused the travel industry to come to a standstill.

Despite having record high numbers in 2019 and excellent balance sheets pre-pandemic, airlines across the United States are forced to make the tough decision to furlough staff.

Along with UA, American Airlines (AA) and Delta Air Lines (DL) have had to make dramatic moves to cut costs in order to stay afloat. These include fleet and network reductions, executive salary reductions, and inflight cost-cutting measures. 

Delta Air Lines is planning to furlough around 2,000 Pilots this coming week in response to the excess of pilots they currently have employed. AA is taking a similar approach, with a plan to furlough 19,000 employees this week.

If new federal aid is not available for airlines, this week could be disastrous for thousands of employees in the US aviation industry. 

Featured Photo: Tyler Lorenz