United Airlines says it will cut flight capacity by half in April and May, expects the cuts to extend to summer travel

The airline handled a million fewer passengers in the first two weeks of March than it did a year ago, and revenue fell $1.5 billion below the year-ago pace, CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said in a letter to employees Sunday night.

SHARE United Airlines says it will cut flight capacity by half in April and May, expects the cuts to extend to summer travel
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says bookings have “flatlined a little bit’’ due to rising case counts and travel restrictions but that he still expects ”pretty strong’’ holiday travel.

A United Airlines plane is shown on the tarmac from an outdoor terrace and observation deck at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

AP

CHICAGO — United Airlines is laying out a dire situation for airlines.

It will cut 50% of its flying capacity in April and May – cuts that could extend into the peak summer travel season – and expects planes to be only 20% to 30% full at best.

United will seek unspecified help from the federal government to navigate a sharp downturn in bookings due to the new coronavirus. It has begun talking to its pilot and flight attendant unions about taking cuts in pay or hours.

The airline handled a million fewer passengers in the first two weeks of March than it did a year ago, and revenue fell $1.5 billion below the year-ago pace, CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said in a letter to employees Sunday night.

“The bad news is that it’s getting worse,” they wrote. “We expect both the number of customers and revenue to decline sharply in the days and weeks ahead.”

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