United Airlines Will Furlough Thousands of Employees in October

United Airlines is planning to lay off more than 16,000 workers in October, part of airline industry layoffs that could put more than 35,000 people out of work.

In an internal memo, United said it will furlough 16,370 employees in October, including 2,850 pilots, 6,920 flight attendants, 1,400 management and administrative employees and 2,010 technicians, according to Fox Business.

“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,” the memo to employees said.

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

United is not alone. Air travel plummeted during lockdowns imposed due to the coronavirus, and has only just begun to show an uptick.

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American Airlines has said it plans to lop 19,000 workers while Delta Air Lines expects to cut about 2,000 pilots as of Oct. 1.

Southwest Airlines is avoiding layoffs, but only because 16,900 employees took voluntary extended time off or quit, according to the Chicago Tribune.

United said if more federal money materializes, the layoffs could be put on pause.

Should Congress save these jobs?

“It is our expectation that things don’t get anything back close to normal until a vaccine is developed and widely administered,” a United executive said on a briefing call with reporters, according to CNN Business.

The executive said extending CARES Act payroll protection could change the airline’s decision, but said the airline is not expecting federal action.

“To be clear, an extension would be the one thing that would prevent involuntary furloughs on October 1 and hopefully delay any potential impact on employees until early 2021,” the United memo said.

The Association of Flight Attendants and others are putting the heat on Congress to extend the provisions of the CARES Act that touch their jobs.

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While not going into specifics, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said President Donald Trump could use executive action to avert layoffs if Congress does not pass relief legislation.

“We’ve got four executive actions that actually the president took, we’re going to take a few others,” Meadows said last week, according to Fox Business.

“Because if Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems. So hopefully we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed.”

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