United Airlines is set to furlough 688 flight attendants after offers of voluntary leave or part-time work failed to produce enough volunteers, the airline said.
"We have offered opportunities to flight attendants for both voluntary furloughs and job-sharing programs in order to mitigate involuntary furloughs, but these programs did not generate enough volunteers and we are faced with the difficult step of furloughing 688 flight attendants," United said in a statement.
The furloughs are expected to take effect in April of this year, according to Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for United Airlines.
The Association of Flight Attendants said it had been working for weeks to mitigate the company’s staffing overage but that United management decided to furlough hundreds of attendants.
“Successful airlines do not lay off workers, they work with the union for solutions,” Greg Davidowtich, president of the United Master Executive Council, said in a statement. ““AFA will continue to pursue any and all opportunities that mitigate the devastating effects this decision will have on those being laid off, and on our company as a whole. We will continue to advocate to management to find alternatives that avoid job loss, and work collaboratively for creative and reasonable solutions. It’s not too late to turn this thing around, management can still choose to do the right thing.”
Davidowitch said the AFA is continuing its talks with United management, but the airline says its offer to the AFA was rejected.
"We are disappointed that on three occasions the subsidiary United AFA rejected a voluntary cross-over program that would have provided flying opportunities to hundreds of flight attendants that may otherwise by involuntarily furloughed," United said in a statement.
The cuts come months after Chicago-based United Continental Holdings, Inc. announced plans to cut costs, overhaul its website and shift flying from Asia to Europe to keep shareholders happy. The original plan, however, did not include furloughs, according to an airlines spokeswoman.
Last April, United Airlines announced it was cutting roughly 600 jobs to keep costs in line with reductions in flying.
The positions cut included management and administration and came after United reported a loss of $723 million for 2012.
The company employs about 84,000 people worldwide.