United was first to publicly warn that a large number of its employees would be unneeded after CARES Act funding ends, because there’s less demand for travel so they’ll be running fewer flights. They were also first out with news of legally-required WARN Act notices for about 39% of employees, preparing to be able to furlough union workers once government subsidies end.
It turns out the airline isn’t done.
- The previous plan was to furlough just 2250 pilots in the fourth quarter, and make a decision on 1650 more pilots later.
- Now they’re planning for even more furloughs since they no longer expect to see as much travel recover as quickly.
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) July 30, 2020
The airline wants pilots to aggressively accept ‘early outs’ to reduce the need to furlough. And they want to send a message to Congress that job losses will be even bigger than they’ve said before, to put pressure on for a second round of subsidies.
However the situation is real, their point of view is that travel comes back to 50% at most until a vaccine is widely available. And the next step with furloughs is more pilots.
That’s because their original plan was relatively light on pilot furloughs. It’s costly and time-consuming to bring pilots back from furlough. So an airline is willing to keep more pilots on than it needs immediately, if the carrier expects flying to pick up over the course of 6-9 months.
United’s initial furlough plan included an expectation of more flying by mid-2021, and now that it’s doubting that plan they’re telling pilots they may let even more of them go. Flight attendants they thought they’d need back by mid-2021 were already in the initial furlough plan figuring those would be easier and faster to bring back than pilots.