United Airlines cuts 600 jobs


CHICAGO – UAL Corp’s United Airlines on Monday said it would reduce the number of its flight attendants by 600 because of economic weakness and lower attrition rates.

The cuts are in addition to the 1,550 flight attendant jobs eliminated last year as the third largest U.S. airline downsized. Those reductions were achieved through voluntary furloughs, and the company said it would again offer workers voluntary exit packages.

UAL currently has 13,500 flight attendants. The workers are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants union.

High fuel costs and sagging demand has clobbered the airline industry as the recession erodes travel budgets. The carriers responded last year by trimming the number of seats for sale.

UAL said at the end of the first quarter it had reduced its mainline capacity by 9 percent to 10 percent year over year. The downsizing involved cutting 7,000 jobs or 13 percent of its workforce.

Rivals Delta Air Lines and American Airlines parent AMR Corp announced further capacity reduction targets for 2009 earlier this month. Analysts expect more airlines to follow.