United Airlines to Lay Off Nearly Half of Frontline Workers in U.S.
Air travel has been hit hardest during the coronavirus pandemic and airlines have seen demand plummet since March. We have seen an uptick recently, but still travel numbers are way off pace compared to 2019. So it is not surprising that most airlines are looking to lay off employees. The latest to announce cuts is United Airlines, and the numbers are drastic.
In a memo to employees, the Chicago-based airline said 36,000 employees face layoffs on or around October 1st. Airlines that received government bailouts are prohibited from laying off any workers through the end of September. That was part of the payroll protection provisions of the federal CARES Act. United received a $3.5 billion grant from the government and $1.5 billion loan for payroll protection.
The expected layoffs at United amount to 45% of its front line workers in the United States and more than a third of its total workforce of 95,000. The most impacted groups are flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents, which account for 26,000 of the 36,000, USA Today reports.
The airline is calling them involuntary furloughs employees that are laid off will be eligible to return when travel demand rebounds under terms of their union contracts.