United Airlines has announced a further tranche of international flight suspensions, which will come into effect within the next few days and which will leave the Chicago-headquartered airline largely a domestic carrier. In normal times, United’s near 5,000 daily departures would serve 120 international destinations across 61 countries.
“United continues to aggressively manage the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on our employees, our customers and our business,” the airline explained in a statement on Friday evening.
“Due to government mandates or restrictions in place prohibiting travel, the airline is reducing its international schedule by 95% for April,” the statement continued.
New cancellations include:
- All transatlantic operations will be suspended from March 25, except for Cape Town to Newark which will be suspended from March 28.
- Nearly all transpacific flights will be terminated by March 28 with the last inbound flight arriving into San Francisco from Sydney.
- All Central and South America flights will be drawn down with the exception on a very small number of flights to Mexico.
- All flights between the United States and Canada will be suspended from April 1.
United will continue to operate some flights to Guam and limited service to select destinations in Mexico.
The carrier said it was actively working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to bring stranded U.S. citizens back home in countries where United has otherwise been banned from flying.
Yesterday, the United Arab Emirates offered to open up Abu Dhabi airport to make repatriation flights easier for U.S.-based airlines who have otherwise shunned the Persian Gulf country in a dispute over government subsidies.
Also on Friday, United warned that without a multi-billion dollar federal bailout the airline would have no option but to start furloughing or making staff redundant by April. United suggested the number of job losses would be in line with the 60 per cent schedule reduction for April – the airline employs around 100,000 people around the world.
“Airlines are burning cash so quickly they will not be able to meet payroll within a few months, if not a few weeks,” explained the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), the union that represents United’s flight attendants.
“You will see furlough announcements that reflect this, but know this: we are working with airlines to get relief that keeps the paychecks going without furloughs,” the union told its members last night.
AFA is backing a roughly $58 billion aviation bailout but with strings attached – the union wants to see money go towards paying workers wages, cutting executive bonuses, stopping shareholder dividends and banning stock buybacks.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.