The US airline industry needs to shrink its labour costs by as much as 50% if it is to survive, and even then it’s possible some carriers don’t make it through the crisis, United Airlines Executive Chairman Oscar Munoz was quoted as saying by CNN Business.
“The stark reality of what we’re facing is dire,” Munoz said in an exclusive interview.
Munoz, an icon in the airline industry who stepped down as United’s CEO in May, was quoted by the website saying that he estimates the collapse of air travel during the pandemic will force airlines to slash their payroll costs by a staggering 30% to 50% translating to tens of thousands of lost jobs.
American Airlines () had last week said it will lay off or involuntarily furlough 19,000 workers as of October 1 unless Congress provides more aid. While in July, United Airlines warned that 36,000 employees, or nearly half of its front-line workforce, could be furloughed this fall.
Articles reported by CNN quoted Munoz who suffered a heart attack and had a heart transplant during his five-year stint as United’s CEO as saying: “This industry has gone through hell and back on repeated occasions. This is, by far, orders of magnitude larger than anything we’ve ever seen.”
United () had on August 30, 2020 announced it was permanently doing away with change fees on economy and premium cabin tickets for domestic flights. Delta ( ) and American followed suit on August 31, 2020.