April 18, 2024

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United Airlines is asking pilots to take voluntary unpaid leave due to Boeing aircraft delivery delays

United Airlines is asking pilots to take voluntary unpaid leave due to Boeing aircraft delivery delays

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A general view of a United Airlines plane is photographed at LaGuardia Airport on February 4, 2024 in the Queens borough of New York City, United States.

New York

United Airlines asked its pilots to take voluntary unpaid leave in May due to delays in deliveries of Boeing planes, according to a memo sent by the union that represents the pilots.

United Airlines said in a statement on Monday that due to the delivery delay, “our expected work hours for 2024 have been reduced, and we are offering our pilots volunteer programs for the month of May to reduce overstaffing.” It also comes as an industry Warns of a major shortage of pilotsas the workforce begins to age after widespread furloughs during Covid-19.

Volunteer programs may extend into the summer and fall, the memo said. The offer means that the company will continue to pay some benefits while the test flight is over.

Monday's development indicates that the repercussions of Boeing's production crisis extend to airline operations, especially United, where 81% of its major operations use Boeing aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration is Take a closer look United said in a March memo that it was on board United after a series of nearly a dozen incidents at the airline.

United had already announced that it was halting the hiring of new pilots “due to continuing new aircraft certifications and manufacturing delays at Boeing.” Southwest Airlines, which flies only Boeing 737s, will hire 50% fewer pilots and 60% fewer flight attendants than planned this year due to Boeing cutting deliveries to the airline by about 40%. It would also reduce capacity from previous plans, providing about 1 percentage point fewer seats than planned.

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United CEO Scott Kirby told investors in March that his company was looking at potentially buying more planes from Boeing rival Airbus, and said earlier this year that an incident at Alaska Air — in which a plane crashed Boeing 737 Max 9 The plane lost a door plug mid-flight on January 5, leaving a hole in the side of the plane the “The straw that broke the camel's back” regarding its plans to have Max 10 shipments anytime in the foreseeable future.

United uses far more Boeing planes than rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which only have about half of their fleets made of Boeing. The union said on Monday that the delivery issues were related to the 787 and 737 fleets.

On March 15, a United Boeing 737-800 landed in Medford, Oregon, Missing external panelAlthough there were no injuries among the passengers. Also in March, another Boeing United plane spewed engine flames after takeoff, one skidded off the runway, another lost a wheel during takeoff, and another had a hydraulic fluid delay.

“Although they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and increased our focus,” Kirby said in a letter to customers in March.

Boeing has been in the spotlight ever since Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 incident.

This is not the first time the airline has tried to lay off pilots. During the epidemic, Airlines have offered tens of thousands of furloughs and voluntary buyouts Due to lack of flying.

CNN's Chris Isidore, Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.