United Airlines is seeking the limit the number of flight attendants it may have to furlough. Furloughs could begin on October 1st, unless the United States extends aid being given to American carriers, as a result of the current decline in passenger traffic.

Passenger traffic within the United States, and indeed around the world, has been slowly increasing since the darkest days in April. However, a full recovery of passenger numbers is currently expected by IATA to take until 2024. So far, many airline employees have remained active thanks to payroll assistance from the United States government.

Limiting furlough from October

United Airlines is going to look to limit employee furloughs in October, according to The Points Guy. The publication cited a letter sent from the airline’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Services, John Slater, to staff. According to the letter, United is looking to introduce a new way of working called “no-activity lines.”

No-activity lines mean that flight attendants will remain on the airline’s books as active employees. However, they would not have any flights allocated every month. The fact that they stay active should allow United to recall them as quickly and when demand returns.

The Points Guy states that Slater commented,
“By introducing this option, we remain more responsive and prepared for when customers feel comfortable returning to the skies, while also providing a large number of flight attendants with the ability to remain active, with active employee benefits.”

October 1st

Depending on how the United States Government chooses to proceed, October 1st could be a pivotal day for aviation in the country. This will be the first day that the country’s airlines will be without government support. To coincide with this date, airlines have been warning their staff of possible furloughs.

In early July, Simple Flying reported that United Airlines was getting ready to send furlough warn notices to up to 36,000 members of its staff across the business. This would account for around 45% of the airline’s entire workforce if the full amount were furloughed.

The airlines are required to give 60 days notice of any impending furloughs, as set out in US law. However, the warn notice is just that. It means that an employee could face a period of furlough in 60 days, but it doesn’t mean that they will.

At the time, United said that it was expecting to make a final decision in mid- to late-August. In other words, right around now. Perhaps it will see how many bite to its voluntary ‘no-activity line’ option before determining how many employees will be placed into furlough.