Citing plummeting demand due to the Covid-19 virus, United
will cut its domestic and Canada schedule by 10% in April. The carrier will
also reduce international flying by 20%. Similar cuts are likely for May.
The schedule changes will go public on Saturday.
“All of our schedule reductions are, importantly, being
implemented in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our
operation,” United CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby wrote in a March 4
letter. “For example, we’re reducing the number of frequencies per week,
finding routes with alternative travel options via other United hubs, and
delaying start dates for seasonal travel to certain destinations — without
closing any domestic stations.”
Along with service cuts, United said it has suspended
hiring, postponed planned April 1 raises for management and administrative
staff by three months and begun offering optional unpaid leave.
The announced cuts are the most sweeping made to date by a
U.S. airline, especially as it relates to domestic flying. They follow
decisions made by United and several other mainline carriers over the past week
to suspend change fees on new bookings in order to assuage consumer concern.
“We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough,
but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible
moving forward in how we respond,” the executives said.
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