United, pilots union reach agreements for early retirements and voluntary furloughs

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

United Airlines and the union that represents its some 13,000 pilots have reached a tentative agreement for voluntary leaves and early retirement packages, the union told its members Thursday.

United and its competitors are scrambling to slash costs as the coronavirus devastates travel demand. The chances for a recovery in air travel amid the pandemic are becoming more remote with cases of Covid-19 spiking and states like New York and New Jersey issuing travel restrictions to stop the disease from spreading, executives have warned.

The union told its members in a memo, which was seen by CNBC, that the deal would need to be ratified by union leaders next week. The details weren’t immediately disclosed.

The agreement comes a day after United warned about 36,000 employees ⁠— close to 40% of its workforce ⁠— that they could be potentially furloughed when the terms of federal aid that prohibit job cuts expire on Oct. 1. That included possible furloughs of more than 2,200 United pilots.

United is trying to exhaust voluntary measures such as early retirements and buyouts before involuntarily furloughing workers.

American and Delta had already reached agreements for early retirements for pilots.

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