United Airlines Hints at Laying Off 36,000 Employees
(AP) - United Airlines is warning 36,000 employees — nearly half its U.S. staff — they could be furloughed in October, the clearest signal yet of how deeply the virus pandemic is hurting the airline industry.
The outlook for a recovery in the airline industry has dimmed in just the past two weeks, as infection rates rise in much of the U.S. and some states impose new quarantine requirements on travelers.
Airlines say they must shrink to match falling travel demand. American Airlines executives have said they could have 20,000 more employees than the airline will need this fall.
United told employees Wednesday that not everyone who gets a layoff notice will be furloughed. The company said job losses could be reduced if enough employees accept buyouts or early retirement by a deadline next week.
The buyouts come at a price too, however. United said it would take a $300 million charge in the second quarter to cover voluntary departures so far. The company said it was unable to estimate the cost of workforce reductions for the rest of the year.
If every U.S. airline matched United’s worst-case scenario of furloughs, it could be extrapolated to about 240,000 lost jobs nationwide, given United’s share of the domestic market.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that global carriers could lose $84 billion this year. The airline trade group is lobbying governments to provide more financial help for carriers.