United Airlines pilots’ union agrees on furloughs deal


An agreement was reached between United Airlines (UA) and its pilots’ union to reduce unpaid leaves and keep up pilot training while the industry is in shambles, the memo sent to pilots states.

Although the precise details of the deal are not yet disclosed, it consists of two packages. One is offering various options to voluntarily reduce pilot’s working hours or take a leave of absence while retaining health benefits and continuing their training. Another is aimed at early retirement of pilots of 62 and older, providing partial pay until they reach mandated retirement age of 65. 

The memo, obtained by Reuters, includes an explanation that the deal is aimed at keeping pilots qualified until the demand returns.

Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), which represents over 2,200 United pilots, has been considering the deal since July 10, 2020. An agreement covers just a fraction of the UA workforce, with the fate of others still unknown.

Almost half of the company’s workers, 36,000 employees, had received a notice of potential furlough, as UA announced their plan to downsize by nearly one third until next summer.  

Congressional support of $32 billion for the aviation industry is due to run dry in September, together with an obligation to refrain from furloughing workers. Previously, United Airlines stated it would start mass layoffs on October 1, yet still retained an option to recall affected employees if and when industry recovers.

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