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United, pilots union reach tentative agreement to avoid close to 3,000 furloughs

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A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines and the union that represents the carrier’s 13,000 pilots have reached an agreement in principle to avoid furloughs of close to 3,000 aviators.

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered travel demand. United last month said it plans to furlough or lay off about 16,000 employees, including 2,850 pilots, starting Oct. 1 when the terms of federal aid that prohibited job cuts until then expires.

“Any potential mitigation must achieve our goals: stop planned furloughs, stop displacements, and include long-term permanent gains for any short-term, fully recoverable modifications,” said Todd Insler, chairman of the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association told union members in a note Monday, which was reviewed by CNBC.

The union and the airline didn’t provide details of the agreement and how it would reduce costs. It wasn’t immediately clear how long, if passed, the plan would avoid furloughs. The agreement needs to be approved by union members and leaders.

The airline said in a statement that it continues “to try and reduce the number of involuntary furloughs at United and are happy we were able to reach an agreement in principle with ALPA that can potentially save pilot jobs.”  

The union and the airline didn’t provide details of the agreement. It was not clear how the airline would save on costs or how long, if passed, the plan would avoid furloughs.

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