United to furlough 685 flight attendants

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United Continental will furlough about 685 flight attendants as part of a $2 billion annual cost-cutting plan announced last year, Reuters reports.

United said it didn’t get enough takers for its voluntary furloughs and a job share-partnership program.

The airline has had more flight attendants who came from the United side than it needs, spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Continental side hired 485 flight attendants last year.

United has been offering voluntary furloughs, but many flight attendants who took those in recent years are now coming back, McCarthy told The Associated Press. The new, involuntary furloughs take effect in April and are open-ended.

Besides the furloughs, United has eliminated about 1,250 flight attendant positions through voluntary buyouts or job shares, McCarthy said. The airline employs about 25,000 fight attendants.

Flying capacity at the combined airline is down 3 percent since 2010, not counting regional partners.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said it offered ideas to reduce the need for furloughs.

“What it comes down to is simply the promise of United’s merger not being realized,” said Greg Davidowitch, the head of the union at United.

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