United Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will be adding 28 daily flights to Florida in the fall season. But the airline will change its plans if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.
However, the airline says that it plans to increase flights from New York, Boston, and Cleveland to four destinations in Florida. This includes Tampa and Orlando, which will start operating in November. Moreover, it will slowly add other cities on both north and south ends.
“We will be keeping a very close eye on the cases and how the surge is taking one way versus the other to make changes,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of U.S. network planning. “We are going to remain flexible and adjust our capacity.”
As United Airlines is increasing its flights to Florida is a fraction of its overall schedule. But since the airlines are financially struggling and want to increase their revenues. They will have to add more flights to do so. The coronavirus pandemic is making it very difficult for airlines to plan ahead.
A few weeks back the airline had to make some adjustments to its already planned schedule for August. As coronavirus cases spiked in much of the U.S., including Florida. After more than two months of slow growth, U.S. air travel leveled off in July.
However, according to the government figures, over the last seven days through Tuesday, the number of people passing through security checkpoints at U.S. airports was down 72% from a year ago. Daily counts have ranged from 831,789 — a five-month high — to 559,420.
“We have suspended our crystal ball around how demand is shaping up since it’s so volatile,” Gupta said.
Before the pandemic, United usually used to set most of its final schedule about 120 days into the future. It is now down to 30 or 45 days.
During these months airlines were getting demand mostly for leisure travel, not business trips. However, it is for domestic flying, not international as most countries are restricting Americans because of the high rate of infection in many states. United’s planned new winter flights to Florida, which will also depart from Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Ohio, are aimed at leisure travelers, Gupta said.
Cost Cutting Plans
To cut costs United Airlines announced earlier that it will be sending layoff notices to about 36,000 of its US employees. This will be nearly half of the airline’s US staff.
The company is estimating an overall cut down of 36,000 employees. However, this is the worst case that could happen. The company plans to reduce layoffs by offering early retirement to qualifying employees.
The staff affected by this decision include 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customers service, and gate agents. Moreover, there will be 5,500 maintenance workers and 2,250 pilots. The airline will start implementing these layoffs as early as 1 October.
However, other than the staff cuts, United Airlines also plans to reduce its management and support staff by 1,300 starting from 1 October. Moreover, the airline will be reducing its international staff as well. United employs 95,000 people.