United prepares to eliminate nearly 1,000 pilot jobs

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As airlines reveal specifics about cutback plans for the next couple years, more and more employees are starting to feel their effects. Yesterday, United announced that it would be "furloughing" (laying off) a first group of pilots when the summer's over.

By the end of 2009, the Chicago-based carrier anticipates laying off a total of 950 pilots and getting rid of 94 B737 aircraft and 6 B747s. These 950 represent roughly 14 percent of United's total of 6,800 pilots. Layoffs among salaried employees and those in management have already begun—21 percent of them, or 1,600, may eventually have their jobs eliminated.

These cuts come at the same time that United anticipates bringing back the often-annoying minimum stay rule. Beginning on October 6, nearly all United tickets will require a one- to three-night or weekend-night stay.

As for United's competitors, Continental plans to cut 3,000 jobs. Four thousand of Delta's workers took early buyout options. And American has plans for getting rid of jobs, though they have not yet been made final.

Ready for a bit more gloom? The Business Travel Coalition, in a new report, has said that major airlines may be on the verge of collapsing as early as this year due to fuel costs: "Already-depleted cash reserves are dwindling fast, and unless the fuel crisis lessens, airlines face not the now-familiar protracted restructuring in bankruptcy, but outright and immediate extinction."


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