United Airlines to lay off pilots amid rising costs

The United States' second-largest carrier, United Airlines, is set to lay off 15% of its pilots in order to offset soaring fuel costs and the negative effects of a weakening US economy.


United Airlines, the second-largest US carrier, said it will lay off 950 pilots amid plans to reduce domestic flights in the face of skyrocketing fuel prices.


UAL Corp, United's parent company, made the announcement late Monday weeks after saying it was cutting its fleet, operations and up to 1,100 additional jobs to offset soaring fuel bills and a weakening US economy.


The layoffs of 950 pilots will affect about 15 percent of the pilots employed by United.


"As we reduce the size of our fleet and take actions companywide to enable United to compete in an environment of record fuel prices, we must take the difficult, but necessary step to reduce the number of people we have to run our business," the Chicago-based airline said.


The troubled carrier said it was continuing talks with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and other unions on ways to ease the layoffs of company pilots.


"We are working to notify all of our employee groups about furloughs as soon as we know the impact of our capacity reductions," United said.


The carrier said affected pilots would be notified about layoffs in mid-July and that the layoffs would become effective during September.


Other major US airlines are also battling surging jet fuel costs which have been stoked by mounting crude oil prices which have jumped to record peaks above 139 dollars a barrel this month.


Some analysts estimate that airlines will face likely losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars this year due to record fuel costs which have more than doubled in the past year.

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