The coronavirus pandemic has forced United Airlines to plan for the elimination of more than 3400 management and administrative positions by October 1.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced United Airlines to plan for the elimination of more than 3400 management and administrative positions by October 1.

United Airlines to cut more than 3400 jobs

United Airlines plans to eliminate more than 3400 management and administrative positions by October 1 as the airline reels from the coronavirus pandemic that has brought air travel to an almost standstill.

Chicago, United's hometown, could be especially hard-hit.

"We have to acknowledge that there will be serious consequences to our company if we don't continue to take strong and decisive action, which includes making decisions that none of us ever wanted or expected to make," Kate Gebo, the airline's executive vice president of human resources and labour relations, said in a memo to employees on Wednesday.

The cuts represent 30 per cent of United's roughly 11,500 management and administrative employees, most of whom work in Chicago, many at the company's Willis Tower headquarters.

Employees affected by the cuts, which take effect October 1, will be notified in July, Gebo said.

United expects to announce a voluntary separation package for domestic management and administrative employees in mid-May, Gebo said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune.

Employees who take the buyout offer will be able to keep travel privileges and medical benefits for an extended period, along with "some continuation of pay," she said. Starting October 1, white-collar employees who are laid off will not receive cash severance packages.

Gebo said United is "trying to give everyone as much notice as possible that changes are coming, and we're making the voluntary options as attractive as possible."

In the meantime, domestic management and administrative employees will be required to take 20 unpaid days off between May 16 and September 30.

Major US airlines including United are receiving billions in financial assistance to keep workers on the payroll through the $US2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The funds buy the airline industry time to see how much demand recovers.

United's memo to management employees gives an early look at how much the airline thinks it may need to shrink.

Originally published as United Airlines to cut more than 3400 jobs



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