United Airlines and its pilots have reached an agreement that both sides say will avoid about 2,850 furloughs that were set to take effect later this week.
The Air Line Pilots Association said on Monday the deal will allow United to spread a reduced amount of flying across the airline’s 13,000 pilots to save jobs at least until next June.
“Our members understood that in order to protect pilot jobs, we needed to approve this agreement,” said Todd Insler, chairman of the union’s United Airlines council.
The agreement was ratified by about 58 percent of the pilots who voted on it.
The deal comes as United, American and some smaller airlines prepare to shed workers on Thursday when $25bn in federal coronavirus pandemic-relief aid and a related prohibition on furloughs expires. The airlines and their labour unions are lobbying for $25bn more to prevent furloughs for another six months, through next March, but the fate of their campaign is uncertain.
US air travel remains about two-thirds lower than it was a year ago, and United executives do not expect travel to fully recover until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
United is still poised to furlough nearly 12,000 flight attendants, mechanics and other union employees. Pilots have special training requirements that can make it more difficult and time-consuming to bring them back, and United executives wanted to avoid a delay in responding when demand rises.