Wednesday, 17 June 2020

United Airlines making its exit package better.

The US mega carrier, United Airlines has sweetened its voluntary exit package for frontline employees like flight attendants and gate agents this week, with the sole intention of avoiding involuntary layoffs in October.

In an email to staff the company said it needed “a lot more people to sign up” if it were to avoid the compulsory redundancies. 

The email, sent to staff at the carrier and seen by Reuters, arrived just 48 hours before a June 18 deadline, said that although “thousands” have signed up for the voluntary exit package so far, the number is not enough. United extended the deadline to July 8.

U.S. airlines cannot force any furloughs or layoffs before Oct. 1 under the terms of a government stimulus package that awarded money for employee payroll through September.

But many, including United, are trying to induce staff to depart sooner, warning that airlines must shrink in the fall.

“While we’re seeing some glimmers of hope in the number of customers traveling, we know that we are still a very long way from returning to where demand was at the end of 2019,” United said in the email, adding that a quick recovery was unlikely.

Under the new deal, frontline employees would receive a $1,500 health credit - to pay for health care, including prescriptions - for every year worked, up to $45,000. The credits would be in addition to other medical, retirement and travel benefits already offered.

United declined to comment.

The company has offered a number of exit packages to union employees based on factors like seniority, age and workgroup, as well as to management and administrative staff, which it is aiming to reduce by 30%.

Last month, United told employees that it only needed about 3,000 of its about 25,000 flight attendants in June given its reduced flying schedule, Reuters reported.

Like other airlines, United is only operating a fraction of the flights it did last year.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski

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