United Says Travel Surge Will Negate Layoffs

In a note to more than 40,000 employees on Friday, United Airlines said the sustained surge in travel demand will negate any furloughs or layoffs when federal aid expires in the fall.

CNBC was privy to the note written by John Slater, United’s senior vice president of inflight services.


“Given the increase in customer demand and our current outlook for the future, we’re excited to announce that we will not need to furlough flight attendants assigned to active, open Inflight bases again this fall when the current Payroll Support Program (PSP) funding ends on October 1,” wrote Slater. “This news provides great relief to many of our flying partners who were facing an uncertain future.”

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Reopening from COVID-19

Many airlines, including United, were forced to furlough workers in the fall of 2020 when aid from the original stimulus package ran out.

United told flight attendants, ramp workers and customer service agents that they won’t face job cuts this fall. Airport operations workers and customer service agents on Friday received similar memos, which were reviewed by CNBC, which said that United “will not furlough” them when the latest round of aid expires.

“With vaccination rates continuing to climb across the U.S. as the pace of infections decline, additional countries are reopening to vaccinated visitors,” said United in a statement. “Given the current outlook for the future of United, we continue to move closer to full frontline staffing levels to support our operation.”

United also told storekeepers, who work with mechanics, that the airline expects to offer a “sufficient” number of permanent positions before the aid expires on Oct. 1.

“Making these positions available to you in the near-term will better allow you to make informed decisions and should help minimize unnecessary changes,” said the memo to that workgroup.

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