United And Pilots Reach Deal For No Furloughs Until 2021

United Airlines pilots have approved an agreement with the airline that will see no United pilot furloughed until at least June 2021. The airline had previously planned to furlough around 2,850 pilots, which are now canceled, and keeps 13,000 pilots employed.

United Airlines Aircraft
United Airlines has reached an agreement with its pilots. Photo: Getty Images

United pilots reach an agreement to cancel furloughs

United Airlines and its pilots have been working for months to mitigate pilot furloughs. With payroll support from the United States government, no pilots could be furloughed until after September 30th. At that point, United had initially warned that about 2,850 pilots would be furloughed. United’s pilots, organized under the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), worked hard to mitigate furloughs.

United and American Getty
United is one airline that had warned about furloughs from October. Photo: Getty Images

In a release viewed by Simple Flying, Capt. Todd Insler, United ALPA Master Executive Council chairman, stated the following:

“Our members understood that in order to protect pilot jobs, we needed to approve this agreement. We’re spreading the existing flying among our pilot group while locking in permanent contractual gains. I am proud of our pilots for showing the unity and resolve needed in the face of uncertainty.”

Previously, United and its pilots agreed to delay pilot furloughs until November.

What are the details of the agreement?

The pilots voted to approve the Pandemic Recovery Letter of Agreement (LOA). The LOA prevents furloughs for United Pilots until at least June 2021. In addition, a second round of early separation options for all pilots over the age of 50 with 10+ years of experience will be on offer. In the case of passenger demand recovery or other positive market factors, the agreement will see the termination or reduction of temporary work reductions, which are in effect to avoid layoffs and furloughs.

United 737
United Airlines sought furloughs as a way to reduce payroll expenses and as a result of less flying. Photo: Getty Images

Will pilots be furloughed in June?

In January, if you had asked anyone at an airline if they imagined pilot furloughs at United in 2020, they would have laughed you out of the room. If anything, United would offer its pilots more destinations to bid for thanks to an ever-growing route map and was set to add more planes to its fleet.

With a crisis starting in March, since then, United’s global passenger market was decimated, and its operations came to a near screeching halt. Now, as September continues to be a strong month for airline travel in comparison to many others, it is clear that the recovery has hit a kind of plateau, with United’s executives expecting a 50% recovery until a vaccine becomes widely distributed.

United Airlines 787-8 Dreamliner Getty
United believes it will be a long ride to recovery. Photo: Getty Images

Through March, United will be operating its winter schedule, which is traditionally smaller than its summer ones. However, there will be several new leisure routes on offer in the domestic United States.

By June, United will, hopefully, be in a much better position with more people showing a willingness to travel and fewer travel restrictions on US citizens, the carrier’s largest source of passengers.

In June 2021, the airline should also be flying more block hours than it is now, especially with some new routes slated to launch next year, so United should be able to offer pilots more hours and need more of them then than they do now. However, much of the recovery is out of United and the pilots’ control.

Are you glad to see United avoid pilot furloughs?n Let us know in the comments!