United Airlines to furlough 16,370 employees including 6,920 cabin crew and 2,850 pilots

 United Airlines will involuntarily furlough a total of 16,370 airline employees by the end of September as the aviation industry continues to take blows from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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According to a report from FlightGlobal, this accounts for 55% less than the initial estimates of the number of employees whose jobs may be affected. Officials at the Chicago-based airline say that the difference is due to a large number of employees who have chosen to take early exit or a variety of voluntary leave programs. Nonetheless, that number was not high enough to avoid furloughs completely, the company says.

Internal memo last September 2

The company told its employees through an internal memo last September 2 that "unfortunately, all of our efforts so far to cut costs, raise debt and introduce voluntary options have not been enough to avoid involuntary furloughs entirely.

“Today, each of our operations leaders communicated directly with their teams to share the heart-wrenching news that approximately 16,000 United employees will be notified of an involuntary furlough effective as early as October 1," it said.

Affected jobs

Out of the 16,370 employees that will be affected by this involuntary furlough, 2,850 are from flight operations or pilots; 6,920 are flight attendants; 2,260 are from airport operations; 2010 technical operations; 1,400 management and administrative; 430 from contact centers; 329 from catering operations; and 180 from network operations center.

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However, 450 pilots took advantage of the early retirement packages the company offered and that the airline is still in negotiation with the union with regards to the final number of pilots to be affected by the furlough.

Difference between furlough and retrenchment

Furlough is basically a "temporary lay-off" where workers are placed on leave-without-pay status for a period of time. In other words, the affected employees will be able to return to their jobs after some time. Retrenchment or lay-off on the other hand happens when a company wants to reduce its work force in order to get back within budget or profitability. Employees are dismissed from the company, they lose their benefits, but are given separation packages.

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