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United Airlines offers pilots a month off as coronavirus prompts flight cuts

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United Airlines is offering pilots to take a month off at diminished compensation, as indicated by a union memo sent on Friday, a measure that follows flight slices because of the spread of coronavirus.

United on Friday declared service decreases all through Asia due to the illness, known as COVID-19, which has sickened over 83,000 individuals. U.S. airlines had just suspended flights to territory China and Hong Kong. The spread of the ailment has raised worries that weak demand and new travel restrictions will incite airlines to additionally cut international flights.

Chicago-based United has more service to Asia than some other U.S. airline. United recently pulled its entire year guidance as a result of the flare-up. The carrier said demand to China fallen completely and fell by 75% in the rest of the airline’s trans-Pacific routes given the virus. United likewise on Friday declared it would delay its investor day, which was planned for next Thursday since it “does not believe it is practical to expect that it can have a productive conversation focused on its long-term strategy next week.”

United is currently offering some widebody pilots a month off in April at the compensation rate for 50 hours per month, lower than the about 80 hours pilots normally work, composed Todd Insler, a United captain and chairman of the United branch of the Air Line Pilots Association, in a note to union members.

“The reductions in block hours have resulted in lower line values and fewer flying opportunities in some fleets,” Insler said in the note. “We are preparing for the possibility of further reductions to our schedules as the virus spreads.”

Since United decreased its flying in Asia it has “worked with our union partners to offer pilots associated with those changes the opportunity to voluntarily adjust their near-term schedules, as we do whenever business needs allow,” a United spokeswoman said. “Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and work closely with our labor partners to help manage our business to minimize the operational and financial disruption of the outbreak.”

The virus is taking steps to end a boom in air travel that pushed U.S. airlines to a decade of profitability. Airline stocks fell more strongly than the more extensive market as organizations pulled back on business travel raising worries about a more extensive slowdown in demand.

United’s pilots, similar to those at American and Delta, are in the middle of contract negotiations with the organization. Delta not long ago cut the number of flights it offers to South Korea, where the biggest number of coronavirus cases outside of China has been accounted for, to 15 every week from 28.

“As of now, there has been no impact on our negotiating strategy or timeline,” Insler told pilots in his note. “During negotiations, both sides always keep economic cycles and external events in mind. Our goal remains ensuring we have a robust contract that protects our pilots throughout their careers in all economic cycles.”

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