United Airlines to cut 1,000 jobs


NEW YORK – United Airlines, one of the leading U.S.-based carriers, said Wednesday it will cut an additional 1,000 jobs to reduce overhead costs.

The airline had previously announced it was cutting 1,500 positions in the second quarter of last year.

Domestic salaried and management staff will be affected, United said.

These additional cuts bring the total reduction in its salaried and management staff to approximately 2,500, or nearly 30%, since the beginning of 2008.

Some of these cuts have already taken place, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

The struggling airline industry has been cutting capacity over the last year to cope with soaring fuel prices. And as airlines reduce capacity, there is less demand for employees, noted Ray Neidl, airline analyst for Calyon Securities. Other carriers, including Delta and American Airlines, also reduced staff in 2008.

“The reduction in oil prices and jet fuel prices has been a welcome benefit to the airlines but the floor has fallen out of air travel,” said Harlan Platt, a finance professor and airline expert at Northeastern University College of Business Administration.

In light of the uncertain economic conditions ahead, “what United has done and what I anticipate other airlines to do is make defensive cuts in employment,” he added.

United Airlines parent UAL Corp. reported a loss in the fourth quarter, blamed, in part, on fuel prices and ill-timed fuel hedges. Also on Wednesday, American Airlines parent AMR Corp. posted a loss in the fourth quarter.

Southwest (LUV, Fortune 500) and US Airways report earnings on Thursday. Delta, Continental and Air Tran are due to report next week.