United to furlough 2,850 pilots after government aid expires

The US aviation workspace situation grew even grimmer after United Airlines announced the largest pilot furloughs in its history. The airline’s union says that 2,850 pilots would lose their jobs if the U.S. government decides against another airline bailout.

United Airlines reportedly plans to furlough 2,850 pilots between October 1 – November 30, 2020, making it the biggest pilot firing in its history. 

In response to the news, the airline pilots’ union issued a statement, criticizing the job cuts and how they would be carried out. In particular, voluntary leave would not be offered to the affected pilots as an option, the union said on August 27, 2020. 

“While other airlines have chosen to reduce manpower through voluntary means, it is tragic that United has limited those options for our pilots and instead has chosen to furlough more pilots than ever before in our history,” the union’s statement reads.

United furlough numbers quoted are larger than its competitors’. Delta Air Lines said it would fire 2,000 pilots, while American Airlines announced 1,600.  All three airlines have announced massive downsizings of their operations, blaming the estimated slow recovery of air traffic demand. 

The 2,850 pilots are a fraction of United’s 36,000 (40%) workforce that might lose their jobs if the bailout did not pass US congress, as the airline revealed earlier in July 2020. Similarly, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said it would ax 19,000 jobs, excluding voluntary leave. 

Overall, most airlines are looking to cut down somewhere around 30-40%, aligning their workforce with the current air traffic demand.

The U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was established by the U.S. government as a payroll aid for employees to keep their jobs. The deadline for CARES approaches its expiration date on October 1, 2020.


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