United Airlines on Wednesday said it is planning to cut more than 16,000 jobs as early as next month, after federal coronavirus aid that protects aviation jobs runs out.
Those involuntary cuts, many of them furloughs that mean employees can be called back if demand returns, represent close to 17% of United’s staffing level at the end of 2019.
The number, however, is far lower than the 36,000 staff that Chicago-based United warned in July that their jobs were at risk. The reduction is thanks to thousands of volunteers who accepted buyouts, early retirement packages and more than a dozen other optional programs like voluntary furloughs, temporary leaves of absence, or reduced or shared schedules. Airlines pleaded with employees to take such options to reduce their head counts, offering perks like continued health care in some cases, a selling point during the pandemic. More than 7,000 United employees opted to