United Airlines to Cut Over 16,000 Jobs in October: Memo

September 2, 2020 Updated: September 2, 2020

United Airlines said it is planning to cut about 16,000 jobs next month after federal aid to airline companies is set to expire.

The cuts, of which many are furloughs, are to jobs including about 6,920 flight attendants, 2,850 pilots, 1,400 management jobs, 2,010 mechanics and 2,260 in airport operations, and others, according to a memo that was published online.

“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. Sadly, we don’t expect demand to return to anything resembling normal until there is a widely available treatment or vaccine,” United said in a statement.

“It is our expectation that things don’t get anything back close to normal until a vaccine is developed and widely administered,” said a United executive who spoke with reporters, as reported by CNN.

United was one of the airlines that received federal funding under the CARES Act, which prevented involuntary staff cuts by the end of September.

United said that the CARES Act Payroll Protection Plan extension can stop the furloughs, adding that its officials can be in communication with Congress and the White House.

“To be clear, an extension [of the program] would be the one thing that would prevent involuntary furloughs on October 1,” the memo said, “and hopefully delay any potential impact on employees until early 2021.” It noted that many United Airlines workers petitioned their representatives in Congress for an extension.

Empty United Airlines ticket machines
Empty United Airlines ticket machines are shown at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla., on April 24, 2020 (Chris O’Meara/AP Photo)

Negotiations between top Democrats and the White House have mostly stalled in recent weeks. On the table includes stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, and an extension of the payroll plan, among other measures.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to Congress on Tuesday, called for another round of pandemic relief measures to be passed in a bipartisan manner. Both he and President Donald Trump said the struggling airline industry would need more assistance.

It came about a week after American Airlines announced it will have to cut about 19,000 jobs, citing similar concerns as United.

Amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, airline travel has significantly dropped as governments around the world restrict travel across their borders and would-be travelers engage in social-distancing practices.

Josh Earnest, a United senior vice president, told USA Today that the Chicago-based firm does not expect to return back to normal until a CCP virus vaccine is developed and widely available.

“We don’t have to snap everybody back at the same time,” he told the paper. “We can basically build our workforce as we need it and as our schedule grows and as demand recovers.”

United has not responded to a request for comment.