United, pilots union reach tentative agreement to avoid nearly 3,000 furloughs

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United Airlines and the union representing its pilots said on Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement to avoid furloughs of nearly 3,000 aviators.

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The air carrier said last week that it planned to furlough or lay off about 16,000 workers, including 2,850 pilots, beginning Oct. 1 unless it received additional federal funding from Congress.

"Any potential mitigation must achieve our goals: stop planned furloughs, stop displacements, and include long-term permanent gains for any short-term, fully recoverable modifications," said Todd Insler, chairman of the United Airlines Chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, in a letter to union members. "Management continues to say they want to reduce involuntary furloughs so they can excel during a future recovery; now is the time to see if they are willing to pay for that flexibility."

WHITE HOUSE LOOKING AT EXECUTIVE ACTION TO HALT AIRLINE FURLOUGHS, LAYOFFS: MEADOWS

CNBC first reported the tentative deal.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.36.02-1.26-3.38%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.13.10-0.53-3.89%
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.31.79-0.76-2.32%

The union and airline did not provide details about the agreement, which still needs to be approved by union members and leaders. Insler said he expects the council to vote on the agreement next week, at which time pilots will be able to review full details. It's unclear how long the plan could avoid furloughs if passed.

AMERICAN AIRLINES TO FURLOUGH 19,000 WORKERS

"We continue to try and reduce the number of involuntary furloughs at United and are happy we were able to reach an agreement in principle with ALPA that can potentially save pilot jobs," a United spokesperson said in a statement.

Including international employees, United has a total workforce of roughly 95,000.

Under the terms of a $25 billion bailout fund that was created earlier this year as part of the CARES Act, airlines are prohibited from cutting jobs or reducing workers' pay through Sept. 30. United received $5 billion through the program.

But Congress remains deadlocked over another coronavirus relief package; the Trump administration is now eyeing an executive action to prevent airline furloughs. American Airlines has said it would furlough or lay off about 19,000 workers starting in October, while Delta Air Lines said it plans to furlough about 2,000 pilots effective Oct. 1.

Air travel plunged 95% between March and mid-April, when the COVID-19 crisis brought the nation's economy to a grinding halt. It's started a tepid recovery since then, but remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

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