LONDON – United Airlines (UA) will reportedly furlough up to 16,000 workers as early as October 1. This is due to the CARES Act expiring on that date.

In a company memo, the airline stated that these furloughs were always a last resort. The memo reads, “Our leadership team has also been direct, honest, and consistent about our plan to save our company, protect the long-term future of our employees, and bounce back quickly when customer demand returns.”

In 2017, UA introduced additional Boeing 777-300ER services to operate its Asian routes. Photo: Alan Wilson.

Breakdown of Furloughed Staff

The memo stated that the following staff categories would have jobs axed as a result:

  • Airport Operations – 2,260
  • Catering Operations – 320
  • Contact Centers – 430
  • Flight Operations – 2,850
  • Inflight Services – 6,920
  • Management and Administrative – 1,400
  • Network Operations Center – 180
  • Technical Operations – 2,010

Measures Already Implemented

United was keen to note in the memo that the following components of its cost-cutting plan were put into action but produced no results. It had aggressively cost-cut elements across the board, including the reduction of executive salaries.

The airline had also provided realistic network planning based on real-time traveler data and implemented creative, proactive debt-raising to boost its liquidity.

The management and administrative employees affected will lose their jobs at the end of the month, with others as early as October 1.

United Airlines Boeing 787-9 N29978 Photo © Luca Flores

A Heavy Hit for United

United had said it has been in talks with union partners about such furloughing. As a result, UA has generated creative voluntary options for employees, stating that such participation in the programs is saving jobs.

For the airline, this is something that may have been expected, given the path of other airlines within the United States.

Earlier last month, American Airlines (AA) announced plans to lay-off 19,000 employees from the business. On that same day, Delta Air Lines (DL) had also announced it would furlough around 2,000 pilots.

This ultimately, at the moment, makes United the second largest carrier in terms of furloughs/lay-offs.

United Relaunches MUC-EWR. Photo: ©️Munich Airport

Current State Reflective of the Future

It remains clear that looking ahead, especially as CARES expires, that job cuts will continue to wreak havoc on the U.S commercial industry. Unless the Trump administration extends the program, it may result in jobs being lost that could have actually been saved in the first place.

Only time will tell how the U.S Government will respond to this and pave the way for either destruction or preservation of the industry.

Featured Image: United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt