Sept. 2 (UPI) -- United Airlines told employees Wednesday it plans to eliminate 16,000 jobs as soon as October when federal coronavirus stimulus funds end.
The announcement comes on the heels of American Airlines saying it will slash nearly 20,000 jobs around the same time as the travel industry continues to struggle to recover during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cuts, which include furloughs, are nearly 17% of United's 2019 staffing. The carrier had warned in July as many as 36,000 could lose their jobs in October. Some 7,000 left the company early through buyouts, early retirement packages and more than a dozen other optional programs.
"The pandemic has drawn us in deeper and lasted longer than almost any expert predicted, and in an environment where travel demand is so depressed, United cannot continue with staffing levels that significantly exceed the schedule we fly," a letter to United employees said. "Sadly, we don't expect demand to return to anything resembling normal until there is a widely available treatment or vaccine."
American Airlines said last week it will cut 19,000 workers in October when federal protections to prevent layoffs end because of the coronavirus. Delta Air Lines said it will furlough nearly 2,000 pilots unless they win concessions from the union.