United Airlines' Singapore staff not affected by carrier's plan to cut 16,370 workers

United Airlines said it's plan to furlough about 16,000 employees only affects those in the US.
United Airlines said it's plan to furlough about 16,000 employees only affects those in the US. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Employees in the United Airlines' Singapore office are not affected by the carrier's plan to furlough about 16,000 employees.

Its spokesman told The Straits Times on Thursday (Sept 3) that the announcement applies only to workers based in the United States. He did not comment on how many workers United employs here.

The airline had said on Wednesday that it is preparing to furlough 16,370 workers when federal aid expires on Oct 1 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to devastate the airline industry. One union said many more people would be without pay.

United had over 90,000 employees before the pandemic brought the industry to a near standstill in March. It warned in July that 36,000 jobs were at risk of involuntary furloughs as demand remained weak.

United's cuts include 6,920 flight attendants, but the union representing them said 14,000 would not have a paycheque in October unless the US Congress acts to extend US$25 billion (S$34 billion) in aid.

Airlines have been lobbying Washington for a second stimulus package to protect jobs through March while the industry awaits a recovery. But talks have stalled as Congress struggled to reach agreement on a broader coronavirus assistance package.

US passenger airlines are still collectively losing more than US$5 billion a month as 30 per cent of planes remain parked. Passenger travel demand is down about 70 per cent and, on average, planes that are flying are half-full.