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United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 U.S. employees in October as travel remains depressed

United Airlines warned employees for months that mass layoffs loomed if travel didn't rebound, and the airline put a grim face on the expected tally Wednesday.

In a memo to employees, the Chicago-based airline said 36,000 employees, or 45% of its front-line workers in the USA and more than a third of its overall workforce of 95,000, face layoffs on or around Oct. 1. The most affected groups: flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents, which account for 26,000 of the 36,000.

Airlines are prohibited from laying off workers until Oct. 1 under the payroll protection provisions of thefederal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

United received a $3.5 billion grant and $1.5 billion loan for payroll protection. The program was designed to stabilize airlines and keep workers employed until they could shrink their businesses to the travel reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

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