Internal Memo: United Airlines To Furlough 16,370 Staff In October

Airlines are much smaller today than they were a year ago. They expect to continue to be smaller even a year from now and perhaps even two years from now. So they need fewer people on staff.

The government has been paying airlines to keep everyone employed anyway, but furlough restrictions lift October 1. While Southwest Airlines, which was more generous with its voluntary programs, doesn’t expect to furlough anyone this year American Airlines has announced layoffs coming for 19,000 people on top of the early retirements and leaves some have already taken and on top of the 30% management layoff announced months ago.

United, which was the first and most vocal about the need to shed staff, is now out with their layoff plans and they’re looking at shedding 16,370 staff come October, according to an internal memo:


Airport Ops 2260
Catering 320
Call Center 430
Flight Ops 2850
Inflight 6920
Mgmt/Admin 1400
Network Ops 180
Tech Ops 2010

That’s actually less than half of the 36,000 WARN Act notices they sent out in July – and makes the case for continued government subsidy to stem job losses less compelling.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And some of you are worried about your original flight maybe being canceled, getting rerouted, maybe arriving a few hours later, having to transit somewhere instead of a direct flight. This should sober you up a little.

  2. @Gary,
    Do you have any data on where the jobs are located? I’m thinking that United will use the furloughs to strengthen their hubs at SFO, DEN, ORD, and EWR at the expense of LAX, IAH, and IAD.

  3. FabinhopBP any action from the government will only kick the can down the road. The truth is this industry will not recover any time soon. Even if there were a CARES Act 2 come April 1, 2021 people in this industry would still be facing layoffs. We have to remember the reason for the original CARES Act, and the reason was many people believed COVID-19 was going to subside during the summer months and the airlines along with the economy would recover quickly. The CARES Act was designed to keep people employed temporarily, it was never designed to be a permanent stop gap for what will now amount to a 4-5 year recovery.

    I know that my comments may come across as cruel and heartless, but I can assure you nothing is farther from the truth. I don’t want to see any one loose their job but at some point we all have to face the facts and the facts are this recovery is going to take years not months as we all originally thought.

  4. @FabinhoBP by “government” you’re meaning “taxpayer dollars”, right? unless you have “another solution” in mind.

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