ROSEMONT (Ill.) – United Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int`l, (ALPA), have voted to approve the Pandemic Recovery Letter of Agreement (LOA) with United Airlines management. The deal maintains all of United`s 13,000 drivers and ends the 2,850 layoffs previously announced. With more drivers, United would be able to use temporarily or faster than expected. Earlier, United and the union, which represents more than 13,000 pilots, said they had reached an agreement in principle to possibly save jobs, but declined to provide more information as details were still being worked out. The LOA prevents a United driver from being fired until at least June 2021. The agreement also offers a second round of early separation options for all pilots aged 50 and over with 10 years of experience and reduces or ends the impact of temporary job cuts due to a recovery in passenger demand or other market factors. Pilots have specific training requirements that make it harder and longer to repatriate, which has given the pilots` union more influence to negotiate a job-saving deal. The deal reached by union negotiators earlier this month offers a new chance for pilots over the age of 50 to retire early. About 94 percent of United`s pilots participated in the ratification vote. It then happens that United, American and a few small airlines are preparing to lay off thousands of workers on Thursday, when $25 billion in federal aid to the pandemic and a resulting Furloughs ban expire.
Airlines and unions are campaigning for an additional $25 billion to delay layoffs for another six months until next March, but the fate of their campaign is uncertain and time is running out. “Once we`ve laid off those employees, for example, it`s really hard to get the pilots back into the training,” Parker said. “Once we exhaust and diminish the airlines, our ability to continue to provide the services needed to get the economy out of them will be severely hampered.” The agreement signed by the union and the airline prevents any disengagement of pilots until June 2021. In addition, the agreement creates a second round of “Early Separation” options for drivers over 50 who have more than 10 years of experience. United said around 2,850 pilots were at risk of being laid off without an extension of public aid, with the sector suffering a sharp drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. On September 16, the airline said it continued to “try to reduce the number of unintended furloughs at United and is now closer to rescuing thousands of pilot jobs.”