United Airlines is preparing for the biggest pilot job cuts in its history.
On Thursday (August 27) the airline announced the need to cut nearly 3,000 pilot jobs this year, or about 21% of its total, without further U.S. government aid.
Airlines devastated by the impact of the global health crisis on air travel have asked the U.S. government for another $25 billion to cover employee payroll through March.
The first round of government assistance, which banned any job cuts until October 1, expires at the end of September.
But talks in Washington have stalled as Congress struggles to reach an agreement on a broader relief package.
United, which currently retains some 13,000 pilots, announced the job cuts would take place between October 1 and November 30.
They're significantly higher than those announced earlier this week by rivals Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
Facing a shrinking industry in the years ahead, airlines have generally tried to mitigate the number of forced job cuts by offering early retirement or voluntary departure deals.
But a union representing United's pilot force said quote "it is tragic that United has limited those options for our pilots and instead has chosen to furlough more pilots than ever before in our history."
United said the numbers were based on current travel demand for the remainder of the year and its anticipated flying schedule, which it believes will continue to be quote "fluid" due to the resurgence of the health crisis in the U.S.
The airline is more exposed than its peers to international travel, which is expected to take longer to rebound from the health crisis.