July 10 (UPI) -- United Airlines and its pilots union have reached an agreement for voluntary furloughs and early retirement in an effort to ease economic hardship and anticipated industry job cuts in the coming months.
The union announced the tentative agreement late Thursday. It still must be ratified by the 13,000-member union next week.
The airline industry expects widespread cuts on Oct. 1, the earliest date any U.S. carrier receiving federal aid can furlough or lay off workers under the CARES Act. The expected losses are a direct result of depressed travel demand brought on by the coronavirus crisis.
"The economic impact COVID-19 has had on the airline industry has been profound for the workers who keep our skies safe and our world connected," Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement this week.
"Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, thousands of pilots and crew members have received furlough notices and, absent congressional action, it is likely that there will be more to come."
Leave programs proposed in the agreement are similar to plans by American Airlines and Delta to reduce pilots on staff. The voluntary programs aim to reduce unwelcome job cuts in October, the United pilots union said.
Plans for the most senior pilots nearing retirement offer roughly three-quarters of their regular monthly income, plus medical, travel and retirement benefits. United has about 1,400 pilots at least 62 years old who qualifying for such offers.
ALPA spokesman Roger Phillips said it's not yet known how many pilots might opt for early retirement under the proposal.