Apr 1, 2024 - Business

United Airlines asks pilots to take unpaid leave due to Boeing delays

A Boeing aircraft operated by United Airlines lifting off in Barcelona, Spain, in February 2024.

A Boeing aircraft operated by United Airlines lifting off in Barcelona, Spain, in February 2024. Photo: Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

United Airlines has asked its pilots to take unpaid leave starting next month because of delays with Boeing aircraft deliveries, the company confirmed on Monday.

Why it matters: The ask is the airline's latest move to contend with major disruptions in the aviation industry, in part set off by the Boeing safety crisis that's drawn increased scrutiny from federal regulators.

  • United, too, is facing a federal review of its operations and potential restrictions on adding new routes after a series of recent incidents, Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: The company said in a statement Monday that due to delivery delays, the number of hours it had planned for pilots to fly this year has dropped.

  • It said the voluntary unpaid leave would begin next month to reduce excess staffing but did not specify how many hours would be cut or how long the leave program may last.
  • In a memo sent to members on Friday, the Air Line Pilots Association, the pilots' union, said delivery issues pertain to the United's 787 and 737 fleets, according to CNBC.
  • Delivery issues are expected to impact other fleets, as well, though the memo did not specify what aircraft could be included.

Boeing said it would not comment on the delivery delays.

The big picture: In early March, United announced it would slow new pilot hires and suspend training classes for two months because of the delivery delays.

  • Boeing customers, including United, have cast doubt on the aircraft manufacturer after prominent issues with its 737 Max 9s revealed wider safety and manufacturing problems within the company.

Go deeper: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to step down in wake of safety issues

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