United Airways warns hundreds of staff that their jobs are in danger

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 and a United Airlines A320 Airbus approaching San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco.

Louis Ribbon | Reuters

According to United Airlines, the jobs of around 14,000 employees will be at risk if a second round of federal aid expires this spring. This is the latest sign of the industry struggling to regain a foothold in the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies are required by law to notify employees in advance if their jobs are at risk, and this does not mean they will ultimately lose their jobs. United is turning to new voluntary measures to reduce headcount.

United and American Airlines recently began calling back thousands of employees who were on leave when the first round of state payroll ran out in the fall. Congress approved additional aid to industry last year on condition that they recall workers on leave and keep payrolls by March 31. United told employees last year that the callbacks would likely be temporary.

“Despite continued efforts to distribute vaccines, customer demand has not changed significantly since these employees were recalled,” the airline said in an employee report seen Friday by CNBC. “When the callbacks began, United said most of the employees who were recalled would be returning to their previous status due to the fall break around April 1st.”

United involuntarily took around 13,000 employees on leave in the fall as the terms of the $ 25 billion Congress approved for U.S. airlines last year expired. The number of workers receiving WARN notices is higher as some workers also voluntarily take leave or enroll in other optional programs.

American Airlines cut around 19,000 jobs in the fall after the payroll had expired. The airline did not immediately comment on whether it would also send notifications about possible job cuts in the spring.

“If demand has not gotten much better by then … we will definitely have to address this if demand does not pick up,” said CEO Doug Parker on a call for earnings on Thursday. “We are already talking to our unions about things we can possibly do.”

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