Monday, June 23, 2008

Furloughs coming for 950 United Airlines pilots

United Airlines Boeing 737-300United Airlines disclosed today that 950 of its pilots will be furloughed by the end of 2009. This move comes in the wake of United's announcement earlier this month that it will retire six Boeing 747-400 aircraft, and all 94 of its Boeing 737s in an effort to reduce overall capacity.

An article in the Wall Street Journal about the United Airlines pilot furloughs quoted the airline's chief pilot, Keith Rimer, who said that "due to the number of pilots on military and personal leaves, furlough notices will be sent to more than 1,400 of the airline's least senior pilots in order to cut the active roster by 950." The furloughs will begin in September when United will lay off 100 pilots. CBS 2 in Chicago, quoting a United Airlines spokeswoman, says the initial furlough notices will go out in mid-July.

So far there is no official press release about the pilot furloughs on the United Airlines website. Neither has the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing United's 6,500-plus pilots, issued any statements or public announcements.

There is no word yet on the number of furloughs in the works for flight attendants, mechanics, or other unionized employees at United Airlines. However, if the carrier plans to furlough nearly 1,000 pilots, furloughs for other work groups are sure to follow.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune has published the full text of the Memo from United management to pilots.

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