United Airlines warns thousands of employees that their jobs are again at risk, labor unions seek more government aid

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 and United Airlines A320 Airbus on seen approach to San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco.

Louis Nastro | Reuters

United Airlines said the jobs of roughly 14,000 employees are at risk when a second round of federal aid expires this spring, the latest sign of how the industry is struggling to regain its footing in the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies are legally required to inform employees if their jobs are at risk in advance and it does not mean they will ultimately lose their employment. United is turning to new voluntary measures to reduce its headcount.

United and American Airlines recently started recalling thousands of employees they furloughed when the first round of government payroll support expired in the fall. Congress approved additional aid last year for the industry, on the condition that they call back furloughed workers and maintain payrolls until March 31. United told employees last year that the callbacks would likely be temporary.

“Despite ongoing efforts to distribute vaccines, customer demand has not changed much since we recalled those employees,” the airline said in a staff note Friday, which was seen by CNBC. “When the recalls began, United said most recalled employees would return to their previous status as a result of the fall furloughs around April 1.”

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