United to Cut More Than 16,000 Jobs on Weak Travel Demand

(Angus Mordant/Bloomberg News)

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. will eliminate 16,370 jobs next month as the carrier shrinks operations in response to the steep decline for air travel demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The furloughs announced Sept. 2 will take effect as soon as Oct. 1, the expiration of a six-month restriction on job cuts imposed as a condition for government aid under the U.S. Cares Act. To date, about 7,400 United employees have chosen to exit the company voluntarily, while another 20,000 are on temporary leave programs.

United’s reductions add to the 19,000 job cuts planned by American Airlines Group Inc. Both carriers said the only thing that would avert the reductions would be an extension of government financial aid to the industry that’s being debated in Washington.

RELATED: Delta, American Join United in Dropping Most Change Fees for US Trips

Last month, United notified 36,000 of its nearly 92,000 employees that their positions were at risk once the U.S. payroll support program ended. That number was reduced for most work groups through voluntary programs, said Kate Gebo, United’s executive vice president for human resources.

The workers who are placed on furlough may be called back when demand improves, the company said. Chicago-based United has said that it doesn’t expect any meaningful recovery in travel demand until a coronavirus vaccine is developed and widely distributed and administered.

The United cuts include 6,920 flight attendants and 1,400 management employees, along with 2,850 pilots whose furloughs were announced last week.

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