United to Cut Staff, Planes as Fuel Rises

UAL's United Airlines said Wednesday it would cut 1,400 to 1,600 jobs and retire 100 planes from its mainline fleet as it cuts capacity in the face of soaring fuel prices and a weakening U.S. economy.

United Airlines
Jacquelyn Martin
United Airlines

The moves, which extend previous plans to cut staff and phase out old planes, represent about a 3 percent reduction of United's staff of 55,000 and a reduction of about 22 percent of its 460-plane fleet.

The company plans to remove 100 aircraft from its mainline fleet, including the 30 previously announced Boeing 737s. UAL said it expects to retire all of its 94 single-aisle Boeing 737s if it can reach a deal with lessors. UAL also will retire six Boeing 747 jumbos.

Over the 2008 and 2009 period, UAL will reduce its mainline domestic capacity between 17 percent and 18 percent, and consolidated capacity -- which includes regional flying -- between 9 percent and 10 percent.

United , the No. 2 U.S. airline, has been battered along with the rest of the industry by soaring fuel prices. UAL lost $537 million in the first quarter and has been in merger talks with rivals in an effort to offset its fuel bill. UAL recently ended merger talks with US Airways Group, saying it would not seek a merger now.

"With fuel at historically high levels, United and our competitors need to redefine ourselves in this marketplace. The answers are not easy, yet this environment demands that we and the industry act decisively and responsibly," UAL Chief Executive Glenn Tilton said in a message to employees.