United Airlines announced on Wednesday that it plans to cut 16,370 employees in October when the federal aid that carriers received expires.
The airline will furlough 6,920 inflight service employees and 2,850 flight operations employees. Also, 1,400 management and administrative employees and 2,260 airport operations employees will be cut.
Airlines are prohibited from firing or laying off any employees until Oct. 1 under the terms of the pandemic relief funding the industry received from the government.
“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. Sadly, we don’t expect demand to return to anything resembling normal until there is a widely available treatment or vaccine,” United wrote in a memo to employees Tuesday.
Additionally, 2,010 technical operations employees will be furloughed, as well as 320 catering operations employees, 430 contact center employees and 180 network operations center employees.
The company said that tens of thousands of employees have participated in voluntary leave, early retirement and reduce hours programs since the start of the pandemic, noting that involuntary furloughs were always a last resort.
American Airlines announced last month that 19,000 employees will be cut in October and other airlines have warned about layoffs.
United noted in its memo to employees that Congress is negotiating another coronavirus stimulus bill and that an extension to the Payroll Support Program “would be the one thing that would prevent involuntary furloughs on Oct. 1.”
The airline called on its employees to write to their representative and advocate for this extension.
United and other airlines also announced this week that they would eliminate change fees for domestic travel.