United Airlines will cut 10 percent of U.S. flights and 20 percent of global flights in April and May amid fears over the coronavirus, the carrier confirmed Wednesday.
United will make the reductions, set to take effect March 7, in response to reduced demand amid the outbreak, the carrier said. The international schedule changes will also involve suspended service to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong.
The airline will also waive any fees for booking changes for domestic and international flights for bookings between March 3 and March 31. United will also institute a hiring freeze for noncritical roles through no earlier than June 30 and postpone 2019 merit salary increases from April 1 to July 1.
“In this uncertain environment, United, working closely with our labor leaders and the U.S. government, has never been better prepared to weather a crisis like this and that is a tribute to all of you and the jobs you do every day, taking care of our customers and one another,” CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said to employees in a memo obtained by The Hill.
“We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough, but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible moving forward in how we respond,” they added.
The memo went out the same day Munoz joined other airline CEOs in a meeting with President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE and Vice President Pence to discuss steps they have taken to safeguard against the virus.
“We’ve created the ‘corona bump’ at United where you’ll see us all bumping each other," Munoz said. "It may sound silly, but it’s a fun way of expressing what we all need to know, [which] is be careful for the next two weeks as we control this, that we adapt our behavior so that indeed we can continue to stay safe."