Similar to most industries, the airline industry is struggling and it’s a tough time to be a pilot.
Yesterday, in a memo to pilots, United Airlines said:
With travel demand dramatically reduced, our airline will need to become much smaller effective October 1, 2020, when the support we received from the Payroll Support Program runs out. While the company, ALPA and our other labor unions completely support and remain hopeful that Congress will make head-way on an extension of the Payroll Support Program, we need to prepare and plan for the future should an extension not be granted.
United has stated the first 1,747 pilot furloughs will occur on October 1, with an additional 572 furloughs slated for October 30, and 531 on November 30, which is a total of 2,850 pilots.
The memo also stated:
It’s important to note that our numbers are based on the current travel demand for the remainder of the year and our anticipated flying schedule, which continues to be fluid with the resurgence of COVID-19 in regions across the U.S.
In other words, furloughing ~2800 pilots could only be the beginning. Their estimations are based on passenger demand so the number of furloughed pilots could increase.
Earlier this month, we saw TSA CHECK POINT NUMBERS pass 800,000 daily passengers but after a resurgence of domestic COVID cases, passenger numbers have decreased by nearly 37% to around 500,000 which does not seem favorable for this situation.
The United Master Executive Council (MEC), the governing body that represents United Airlines pilots and works to protect and promote the careers of United pilots, immediately released the following statement:
This is devastating news for many pilots and their families. Many pilots could be searching for alternative careers given that other airlines are going through similar situations.
Many airline executives have stated that demand for travel may not return for years which leaves pilots between and rock and a hard place. As a pilot, do you wait for a phone call that says “passenger demand has increased and we need your services again” or do you explore other career options?
On the other hand, this could be an attempt by United to “encourage” the US administration to release additional payroll support funding.
What are your thoughts on this news? What would you do if you were a pilot?