United Won’t Furlough Staff Until At Least September

Today, United CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby sent a message of positivity to its employees. The airline is hopeful following confirmation that the United States government will give significant financial backing for the airline industry amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this update, the company will not conduct involuntary furloughs or pay cuts in the US before September 30th.

United Airlines at Denver
United has some important news for its staff. Photo: Getty Images

What a difference a week can make

Just seven days ago, United sent an emotional letter to its staff asking them to help put pressure on the government for support. It said that if Congress didn’t act swiftly, the firm would have to reduce its payroll in line with the 60% schedule reduction it announced for April. Additionally, it said that May’s schedule is likely to be cut even more, which would further affect employees.

However, Business Insider now reports that US carriers will receive nearly US$58 billion in financial assistance as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Ultimately, this will help operators such as United cover payroll during the service cuts amid the dire situation- a situation that airlines are saying is far tougher than even the aftermath of 9/11.

Several of United’s aircraft will remain grounded over the next few months. Photo: Getty Images

Employee recognition

United sent a follow-up letter to its staff members to show its appreciation for their support. Their overwhelming efforts have helped in the bigger picture.

“Your participation in the last few days was critical. More than 30,000 of you sent more than 100,000 messages to your representatives in Congress and another 5,000 signed a petition for international employees and retirees,” United’s leadership said in the message.

“Our union leaders also activated their organizations to amplify the message for the good of our company. The speed at which everyone stepped up and acted was remarkable and shows that when we come together, we can accomplish incredible things for our company. Thank you for what you did to help in getting this legislation passed.”

United went on the highlight how its pilots, flight attendants, airport agents, ramp service, technicians and catering teams are continuing to show up at airports, helping others across the country. Furthermore, special praise was given to call center contractors who handled nearly a million calls in the last two weeks.

United Airlines Pilots
All of United’s employees are being shown huge amounts of appreciation by the company. Photo: Getty Images

A glimmer of hope

Altogether, United expects demand to remain suppressed for many months, possibly into next year. However, despite preparing for the worst, it promises to recover no matter what happens.

Ultimately, confirmation of government support can massively change the mood of a company within a week. US airlines can feel more relaxed today following the reports of holistic government assistance. In contrast, United Kingdom-based operators don’t have the luxury of an all-encompassing support package. Instead, these carriers will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

What are your thoughts on how the US government is backing its airlines? How do you feel about United’s response? Let us know what you think in the comment section.