United Airlines Pilots Accept Deal to Avert 2,850 Furloughs

September 28, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2020

CHICAGO—United Airlinespilots voted on Monday to accept a deal that would avert 2,850 furloughs set for Thursday, while thousands of other U.S. airline employees are hoping Congress will extend federal aid to save their jobs.

An initial $25 billion government bailout that covered airlines’ payrolls and protected jobs for six months expires on Sept. 30, driving a fervent last-minute push by the industry for Congress to agree on a fresh stimulus package.

Chicago-based United has already put in motion steps to furlough around 12,000 frontline employees, excluding pilots, on Thursday, officials said.

Under the agreement with its pilots, United’s drastically reduced flying schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic will be spread across its entire pilot base, saving jobs and reducing the need for costly training once demand returns.

U.S. airlines have argued that without support from Washington, they will not have a trained workforce in place once demand that is down about 70 percentage from last year starts to recover.

American Airlines, which is lobbying hard for a fresh bailout, is preparing to furlough 19,000 workers on Oct. 1, though Chief Executive Doug Parker said on Sunday he was “confident” that proposed bills with airline relief could be passed before Thursday.

Congress is still negotiating a coronavirus relief package. Democrats and Republicans have remained more than $1 trillion apart in the talks. Pelosi has repeatedly said that Democrats will not pass a measure worth less than $2.2 trillion, which Mnuchin and other White House officials have rejected for including too many non-pandemic related measures that would cost billions of dollars.

Trump and the GOP have also accused top Democrats of not wanting to agree on a deal because it could benefit the president’s reelection chances.

By Tracy Rucinski. Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.