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United Airlines Plans to Furlough 16,000 Workers, Fewer Than Expected

United Airlines plans to furlough 16,000 of its 52,000 employees beginning in September, less than expected because of the warm winter.

Airlines have been facing the rise of low-cost airlines over the past decade or so, with many making and replacing customer-service workers. Low-cost carriers also use work to streamline seating arrangements to compete with larger airlines and the US and international business markets.

United announced the plan in a press release on Wednesday, June 5.

The layoffs, which will be in addition to 11,000 layoffs the company announced last week, will affect business managers, operations personnel, ticket-control and security personnel, as well as customer-service workers.

The company added that some of those employees may get limited job assignments.

“Given the flexibility these roles enable, we are working to keep impacted employees on the job. We will provide additional details in the next few weeks,” United said in a press release.

United first notified employees of the layoffs on May 31, according to published reports.

United faces an array of challenges as it competes for profits against rivals as well as expanding non-traditional and low-cost carriers. For instance, United was still in the process of modernizing its mainline operations two years after a massive pension-fund deficit hit the company.

As a result, the carrier has focused heavily on its revenue-generating passenger-services operations, including baggage and flight cancellations, while cutbacks in spending on operational and maintenance issues caused by its large pension deficit delayed mainline maintenance modernization.

In its April earnings release, United said it lost $1.6 billion in the first quarter of the year, mostly a result of its sizeable pension-fund deficit.

United, which fell into bankruptcy reorganization in 2005 and emerged in 2007, had more than 100,000 pilots and contract workers in 2017.

Company spokespersons declined to comment on which networks or domestic markets will be most impacted.

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