In a letter to employees on Wednesday, United Airlines said that due to the decline in demand flowing from the impact of the Coronavirus, the airline will be reducing their international and domestic schedules.
“All of our schedule reductions are, importantly, being implemented in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation. For example, we’re reducing the number of frequencies per week, finding routes with alternative travel options via other United hubs, and delaying start dates for seasonal travel to certain destinations—without closing any domestic stations,” the letter signed by Scott Kirby, president and Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines stated.
The airline’s international schedule will be reduced by 20 percent in April, and similar reductions will be implemented in May. Due to the decline in international bookings, combined with the lower demand among U.S. travelers, the line’s domestic schedule will also be changed. Schedules across the U.S. and Canada will be reduced by 10 percent in April, and similar reductions will make place in May. The changes to the schedule will go public on Saturday, March 7.
Munoz also stated in the letter that “as a lot has changed since this weekend. Overseas, Cathay Pacific has canceled more than three-quarters of its weekly flights in March, and British Airways canceled a large number of flights between March 16 and March 28 because of a large decline in demand.
Additionally, in order to ease the hesitation of travelers, the line is adding more flexibility to it’s change fees policy. United will be waiving change fees for any booking—domestic or international—made between March 3 and March 31.
Though employees were asked in the letter for voluntary, unpaid leaves of absence, Kirby and Munoz said, “In this uncertain environment, United, working closely with our labor leaders and the U.S. government, has never been better prepared to weather a crisis like this and that is a tribute to all of you and the jobs you do every day, taking care of our customers and one another.”
In addition, the letter started by recognizing employees’ efforts to keep travelers safe, as well as their high customer ratings, and operations for the beginning of the year. “In my note to you over the weekend, I said that your role in taking care of our customers would be critical as we manage through this coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and you are delivering beyond my expectations—we had the best winter month operational performance in January and February that our airline has ever seen. We’re also seeing some of the strongest customer satisfaction ratings in recent memory. That is what success for our company looks like and just one of the reasons why Scott and I are so proud of this team.”
The duo ends the letter by saying, “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. We are confident that if we continue to stick together as one United family, we will emerge from this challenge better positioned than ever to take United to new heights.”
For more information on United’s waivers and change fees, visit united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/notices.