United Airlines Could Furlough Up To 3,000 Denver Employees As Battle Over Coronavirus Aid Continues

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David Zalubowski/AP Photo
A United Airlines jetliner lifts of a runway at Denver International Airport as travellers deal with the effects of the new coronavirus Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Denver.

United Airlines is moving forward with plans to furlough 13,000 employees as the pandemic bites into airline profits.

As many as 2,895 people in Denver could be furloughed starting today, according to WARN notices issued in Colorado over the summer. A vast majority of the cuts were listed as temporary, although United would not confirm the details of its current plans. 

Airlines are suffering as businesses and households cut back on travel. In March, airlines — including United — received billions of dollars in federal aid on the condition that no jobs were cut. That program expired this week. Congress has so far failed to pass additional coronavirus relief. 

U.S. airlines are pushing for a new bailout package, and maintain they are forced to conduct layoffs because no new government aid has been forthcoming.

“In a continuing effort to give the federal government every opportunity to act, we have made clear to leadership in the Administration, Congress and among our union partners that we can and will reverse the furlough process if the CARES Act Payroll Support Program is extended in the next few days,” a spokesperson for United said in an emailed statement.

The company is working with unions and introducing new voluntary options in an effort to reduce the number of involuntary furloughs, according to the statement.

Frontier Airlines in July reported plans to begin furloughs of 398 people in Denver this month, but no longer anticipates making the cuts, Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokesperson for Frontier, said.

“We have since reached agreements with our unions,” de la Cruz said in an emailed statement.