Coronavirus pushes United Airlines to offer buyouts to US employees

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United Airlines is offering buyouts to U.S. employees as it contends with the ongoing financial impact of the global coronavirus outbreak, according to a company memo on Wednesday.

Airline employees in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam can ask for a buyout from March 26 through April 10, according to the memo, which was first obtained by Skift. Employees who receive a buyout are eligible for “enhanced medical benefits and travel privileges.”

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“We’re offering this program because in this turbulent time, we want to give you some control over your path forward,” a United Airlines human resources executive said in the memo. “We do have to make sure that our operational needs are covered, now and also when we begin to ramp up service again, so the only thing that would potentially prevent approval of an employee’s request would be if too many team members from one area wanted to participate.”

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Travel bans mandated by the Trump administration and social distancing protocols have brought U.S. airlines to a halt in recent days. President Trump identified the airline industry as a priority as lawmakers work toward a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes bailout funds for endangered sectors.

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UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.36.60+3.60+10.91%

United Airlines has made significant cuts to domestic and international flights due to the outbreak. The company’s overall flight capacity will be down by roughly 68 percent in April, according to Reuters.

“We are offering our employees many different options regarding their future with the company, so they can find what works best for them,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business regarding the buyout packages.

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Employee spouses and domestic partners are also eligible for many of the enhanced benefits, according to the memo.

United CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby are foregoing their base salaries through June. The executives warned in a separate memo that ongoing financial difficulties could result in temporary pay cuts for employees.

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