United Airlines asks pilots to take unpaid leave due to Boeing delivery delays

United Airlines has asked pilots to take voluntary unpaid leave since Boeing delivery delays mean the airline will be operating fewer flights than planned over the following months.

The carrier has already stopped the recruiting process for new pilots and has offered current pilots “voluntary programs” for the month of May, according to a memo sent by pilot unions. “Our forecasted block hours for 2024 have been reduced and we are offering our pilots voluntary programs for the month of May to reduce excess staffing”, United said in a statement.

Among the options, workers can take the whole month of May off, unpaid, but still receiving some benefits, or otherwise chose their dates for being off. Pilots can also opt for a blank schedule where they will be allowed to pick and trade trips, according to Reuters. While the United staff memo only mentions the month of May, unions are expecting the delivery delays to affect schedules over the summer and possibly into fall as well.

United’s fleet constitutes of 81% Boeing aircraft and, besides the prolonged delivery delays due to the manufacturer’s ongoing safety inspections, some of its fleet is also grounded, partly due to Boeing quality controls and partly due to a new safety probe initiated by the US Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA) specifically into the airline.

Boeing has been struggling since the beginning of the year when a mid-flight blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight marked the start of a disastrous year for the aircraft manufacturer. Amid the crisis, the company’s CEO Dave Calhoun has announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year, while the Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer, Stan Deal, was replaced on 25 March.

Boeing was already struggling to meet deliveries even before the grounding of its models for safety inspection. Foreseeing the worsening of the situation, Ryanair, whose fleet is exclusively Boeing, already adapted its summer schedule in January, with CEO Michael O’Leary warning of a 10% fare rise caused by the delivery delays.

On the other hand, airlines who are less reliant on Boeing and have a higher number of Airbuses in their fleet will be less affected this summer. United rivals, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, only have about half of their fleets made of Boeings and have not reported major changes for the summer. Similarly, in Europe, during the Airlines for Europe aviation summit, the CEOs of British Airlines owner, IAG group, easyJet and Air France – KLM all said they expect no to few delivery delays this year, but no impact to schedules.



Source Travel Tomorrow