United Airlines Declares Steepest Pilot Jobs Cuts in its History

United Airlines (UAL.O) is poising for the largest pilot furloughs of its entire history. On Thursday, the airlines announced the requirement to slash 2,850 pilot jobs this year, or about 21% of the total, in absence of further U.S. government support.

A Massive Furlough

Airlines, struggling from the catastrophic effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic on air travel, have urged the U.S. government for another $25 billion to cover employee payroll through March.

The first tranche, which curbed any job cuts until October 1, expires at the end of September. However, talks in Washington have been hampered as Congress has reeled to reach an agreement on a wider coronavirus assistance package.

United’s planned cuts, rolled out in a memo to employees and shared with the media, would happen between October 1 and November 30. They are evidently higher than the 1,900 declared earlier this week by Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and 1,600 by American Airlines (AAL.O).

Experiencing a contracting industry in the coming years, airlines have generally tried to attenuate the number of forced job cuts by providing early retirement or voluntary departure deals. However, few carriers’ packages have been more attractive than others.

“While other airlines have chosen to reduce manpower through voluntary means, it is tragic that United has limited those options for our pilots and instead has chosen to furlough more pilots than ever before in our history,” the union representing United’s 13,000 pilots expressed in a statement.

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Era of Recession

United stated the numbers were based on current travel demand for the remainder of the year and its projected flying schedule. To which it said, “continues to be fluid with the resurgence of COVID-19 in regions across the U.S.”

Chicago-based, United airlines is more affected and exposed as compared to their peers to international travel. This is expected to take longer to rebound from the pandemic.

United, which has warned about 36,000 jobs are on the line across the company, has not yet offered final furlough numbers for other workgroups. On Tuesday, American stated that it was slashing 19,000 jobs in addition to voluntary reductions that will see the company’s workforce cut by almost 30%.

United’s declaration comes on the final day of the Republican National Convention. In the convention, President Donald Trump will try to regain momentum against the hit of a pandemic that has led to the loss of over 180,000 American lives and generated a recession that has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs.