United Airlines warns employees about reduction in flight schedules because of coronavirus outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO -- Executive management at United Airlines has sent an email to its employees indicating it is planning 20 percent reductions in its international flight schedules and 10 percent reductions in domestic schedules this month with plans to do similar reductions in May as a result of COVID-19 declines in passenger demand.

The airline also said it will offer U.S. based employees the opportunity "to apply for a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence or in some cases, a reduced schedule."

A hiring freeze has been implemented through at least June 30, except for roles it considers critical to its operations.

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Management and administrative employees will be deferred from April 1 until July 1.

This will not affect employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.

The schedule reductions are scheduled to be made public on March 7.

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The memo to United employees, sent by board chairman Oscar Munoz and CEO Scott Kirby, said the airline is working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and federal officials to keep customers and employees safe.

"We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough, but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible moving forward in how we respond," the memo read.

Munoz was among the airline executives who met with President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday morning to discuss COVID-19, passenger safety and the outbreak's impact on the industry.

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