CHICAGO—United Airlines said on Thursday it will need to cut 2,850 pilot jobs this year if the government does not extend an aid package to help airlines cover employee payroll for another six months while they weather the coronavirus pandemic.
The job cuts, released in a memo to employees and shared with the media, would take place between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 and are significantly higher than those announced earlier this week by rivals Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
“It’s important to note that our numbers are based on the current travel demand for the remainder of the year and our anticipated flying schedule, which continues to be fluid with the resurgence of COVID-19 in regions across the U.S.,” United said in the memo.
United is more exposed than its peers to international travel, which is expected to take longer to rebound from the pandemic.
Airlines received $25 billion in U.S. government stimulus funds in March meant to cover payrolls and protect jobs through September. As the money runs out without a travel recovery in sight, airlines and unions have lobbied Washington for another $25 billion, but talks have stalled as Congress has struggled to reach agreement on a broader coronavirus assistance package.
Under the terms of the first package, they cannot make any involuntary job cuts until Oct. 1.
By Tracy Rucinski