United Plans 16,000 Furloughs As Airlines Cut Jobs During Pandemic Downturn

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A United Airlines plane is seen at the gate at Denver International Airport on July 30. The airline industry has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

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Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

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In a recent earnings call, United reported revenues were down more than 87% compared to last year.

«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 company wrote. «Sadly, we don’t expect demand to return to anything resembling normal until there is a widely available treatment or vaccine.»

Airlines Are Bracing For Potential Layoffs As Federal Payroll Aid To Expire Soon

Airlines Are Bracing For Potential Layoffs As Federal Payroll Aid To Expire Soon




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Airlines received a lifeline from the federal government this spring, in the form of $25 billion in aid authorized through the CARES Act. The companies frantically sought cost savings — through voluntary furloughs and retirements, buyouts, schedule-sharing and other measures — but, as a condition of that aid money, were prohibited from laying off staff.

The aid money and the job protections expire Sept. 30.

The House passed a bill that would extend the payroll support program that has been helping the airlines. But the Senate has not.

In its announcement of furloughs, United urged employees to write to their representatives to support the extension, calling it «the one thing that would prevent involuntary furloughs on October 1 and hopefully delay any potential impact on employees until early 2021.»

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