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United, pilot union, makes preliminary preparations for early retirement and voluntary trip days

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

United Airlines and the union, which represents its approximately 13,000 pilots, have made a tentative agreement on voluntary vacation and early retirement packages, the union told its members on Thursday.

United and its competitors are trying to cut costs as the corona virus destroys the demand for travel. Chances of air traffic recovery amid the pandemic are diminishing as cases of Covid-19 spiking and states like New York and New Jersey impose travel restrictions to prevent the disease from spreading, executives have warned.

The union told its members in a memo seen by CNBC that the deal would have to be ratified by union leaders next week. The details were not released immediately.

The agreement comes a day after United has warned approximately 36,000 employees – nearly 40% of its workforce – that they may be on leave if federal aid prohibiting job cuts expires on October 1. This included possible vacation days for more than 2,200 United pilots.

United tries to take advantage of voluntary measures such as early retirement and takeovers before workers are involuntarily taken on leave.

American and Delta had already made arrangements for early retirement of pilots.

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