United to lay off more than 1,000 as job cuts continue


United will furlough more than 1,000 workers from positions across the country The Associated Press reports, citing “layoff notices and the unions that represent the workers.” The Chicago Tribune says “the latest furloughs are among the 7,000 jobs that the Chicago-based carrier had said it would eliminate as it reduces its workforce to match its shrinking airline operations amid the tough economy. United is in the process of grounding 100 airplanes, about 20% of its fleet.”

“These are part of the difficult but necessary actions we are taking companywide to enable United to compete in this challenging economic environment,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says to the Tribune. The paper adds that “although U.S. carriers are enjoying a temporary retrieve from crushing fuel costs, they are following through with plans to reduce their flying and retire older planes, capacity cuts that are the equivalent of one large airline.”

AP says “United has been working for several months toward reducing its headcount by 7,000 positions … . It’s been using a combination of leaves, buyouts, and furloughs to eliminate those jobs. The latest furlough plans are part of that 7,000 total, which also includes plans to lay off roughly 1,500 office and management workers.” And in one small bright spot from the latest announcement by United, AP writes that the airline “said growing international departures would mean some growth in activity at Washington Dulles airport.”

Earlier this week, AP wrote in a separate story that United “would be willing to cut more capacity to get profitable, but does not believe it will need to do so, the chief financial officer of parent UAL said on Tuesday. (United) said in October that it expects overall capacity to shrink 8% to 9% during 2009. Asked whether it would aim to reduce flying even further, CFO Kathryn Mikells said, ‘We are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to get back to profitability. At this time we are very comfortable with the capacity cuts we put in place.’ “