CLEVELAND — As a result of the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on travel demand, United Airlines announced this week that it will be reducing its workforce at all facilities at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, affecting 450 employees, according to a letter from the airline to the Office of Workforce Development in Columbus.
The layoffs are expected to begin on or about Oct. 1, 2020 or during a 14-day period after that date. United said while it’s hopeful the layoffs are temporary, the company anticipates that they will last six months or longer.
United said certain team members may be able to choose options that are available, including bumping rights, which would allow them to “bump” someone of lower seniority.
In an effort to reduce operating costs, United has suspended raises and implemented a schedule reduction for management and administrative employees, as well as introduced voluntary leave and separation programs. Even with these measures, the airline said as of mid-June, the demand for air travel remains more than 90% lower than last year.
Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources and labor relations, released the following statement on behalf of United.
While this is extremely difficult news, we are encouraging all of our team members to consider whether one of the voluntary programs being offered is a viable option for them and their families. Meaningful participation in these programs could significantly reduce the need for involuntary furloughs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much change in our personal and professional lives and will result in us being a smaller airline. While I understand the business need to align the size of our organization with demand, I also understand and deeply regret the impact this action will have on our employees and their families. We are working hard to get through this as quickly as possible and reuniting our United team.
Read the full letter here.