‘A gut punch’: United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 U.S. employees in October as travel remains depressed

United Airlines warned employees for months that mass layoffs loomed if travel didn’t rebound, and the airline put a grim face on the expected tally Wednesday.In a memo to employees, the Chicago-based airline said 36,000 employees, or 45% of its front-line workers in the USA and more than a third of its overall workforce of…

‘A gut punch’: United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 U.S. employees in October as travel remains depressed

United Airlines warned employees for months that mass layoffs loomed if travel didn’t rebound, and the airline put a grim face on the expected tally Wednesday.In a memo to employees, the Chicago-based airline said 36,000 employees, or 45% of its front-line workers in the USA and more than a third of its overall workforce of 95,000, face layoffs on or around Oct. 1. The most affected groups: flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents, which account for 26,000 of the 36,000.The airline calls them involuntary furloughs because most of the affected employees will be eligible to be recalled when travel demand returns under terms of their union contracts.Airlines are prohibited from laying off workers until Oct. 1 under the payroll protection provisions of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.United received a $3.5 billion grant and $1.5 billion loan for payroll protection. The program was designed to stabilize airlines and keep workers employed until they could shrink their businesses to the travel reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.United executives said in a briefing with reporters that they hope the final tally, which will be known in mid- to late August, will be less than 36,000 as more employees accept voluntary exit programs. The airline extended the application window for its voluntary separation program to July 15 to encourage more employees to sign up. The 36,000 does not include 1,400 previously announced layoffs of management and administrative employees.”After months of aggressive cost-cutting and proactive capital-raising, today we updated employees about a topic we’ve always dreaded and the action that was always a last resort in the context of this COVID-19 pandemic: involuntary furloughs,” the statement began.It continued, “The reality is that United simply cannot continue at our current payroll level past October 1 in an environment where travel demand is so depressed. And involuntary furloughs come as a last resort, after months of company-wide cost-cutting and capital-ra
Read More From Publisher