Dhaka: United Airlines has announced that it will furlough up to 36,000 of its workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That would put almost half of the airline's US-based frontline workforce on unpaid leave.
“Throughout this crisis, we have been honest and direct with you about our need to right-size our workforce to match travel demand,” the airline said in a statement.
The carrier added that it expects capacity for this month to be down 75 per cent compared to July last year.
United further mentioned that not everyone who receives a warning letter will definitely be furloughed, with the final number depending on whether trading conditions improve and how many workers accept offers of redundancy and temporary leave.
“Our primary goal throughout this crisis has been to ensure United - and the jobs it supports - are here when customers are flying again,” United Airlines said in a statement to employees.
In response to the announcement, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union said, "The United Airlines projected furlough numbers are a gut punch, but they are also the most honest assessment we've seen on the state of the industry.”
The US government has offered USD 50 billion to support the airline industry which has agreed to not lay off staff or cut pay until September 30.
United Airlines is receiving USD 5 billion of those funds and will not make any cutbacks until October 1, the carrier said.
The US has no automatic scheme to cover wages of furloughed workers, who would be put on leave without pay.
United said travel demand would dictate when staff were recalled. Some people may continue to collect benefits, but that will vary depending on labour union agreements.