United Airlines announced up to 36,000 of its workers could be furloughed due to the pandemic.
This number amounts to nearly half of the company’s total US-based frontline workforce.
The company said “Throughout this crisis, we have been honest and direct with you about our need to right-size our workforce to match travel demand”.
The company said it expects capacity for this month to be down 75% compared to July last year.
The company also added that not everyone who gets a warning letter will definitely be furloughed. The final number will be depending on whether trading conditions improve and how many employees accept offers of redundancy and temporary leave.
United Airlines said in a statement to workers “Our primary goal throughout this crisis has been to ensure United – and the jobs it supports – are here when customers are flying again”.
In reply to the Airlines’ statement, 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.”
$50bn (£40bn) fund has been offered by The US government to support the airline industry in the country which has agreed to not lay off staff or any cut pay until 30 September.
United Airlines is also confirming of receiving $5bn of those funds and won’t make any cutbacks until 1 October.
Pilar Wolfsteller, Americas Air Transport Editor at FlightGlobal, said “It is the first of the major US airlines to come out and clearly say ‘we are going to be a much smaller airline after all of this is over’.”
She further added “Now we’ve got to see what the other airlines will do but we’re expecting the industry as a whole is going to shrink and it’s probably going to be about a third smaller than it was coming into this crisis”.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the airline trade group AITA said “We can expect that this crisis will have a long shadow”. It believes that global airlines to lose as much as $84bn this year.
Although there are new social distancing measures such as the wearing of masks on flights, many people are still nervous about flying.