An internal United memo, leaked Thursday, outlines plans to furlough roughly 3,900 United pilots in the near-to-mid future.
United had previously gone public with plans to stand down 2,250 pilots between 1 October and the end of the year, as well as a further 1,650 in 2021 dependent on demand.
However, the contents of the memo, which was reviewed by Reuters, reportedly suggest that United has plans to push these cuts forward (and potentially increase them).
With a workforce of some 12,200 active pilots, this means that as many as one-third of pilots employed by the Chicago-based airline could be stood down within the year.
The terms of a federal bailout that provided $25 billion to passenger airlines prevents US airlines from cutting jobs or pay rates until 1 October. However, with this deadline fast approaching, United sent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notices out to sizeable numbers of its staff, alerting them to possible layoffs in the months to come.
While WARN notices were issued to 2,250 pilots, the company reaffirmed that not all of those who received the notices would necessarily be furloughed. WARN notices were issued to 36,000 employees in total, accounting for 45 per cent of the company’s workforce.
The news comes despite extended filing deadlines for buyout and early retirement programs, which the airline cited as the main factor that could help minimise involuntary job cuts.