United Offers Flight Attendants Up To $100K To Stay Grounded

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United Airlines is about to make the ground far more financially friendly than its skies, at least for some flight attendants. The company came to an agreement with Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) union to offer a buy-out. Depending on years of service, attendants could qualify for one-time lump-sum payments of up to $100,000 to leave the company, according to an announcement by the company.

United has more than 23,000 flight attendants. The company is also recalling all "Flight Attendants who are on voluntary and involuntary furlough," the statement said.

The reduction comes six years after United reduced the size of its airplane fleet and had 2,000 attendants more than it needed, as Time reported. United and Continental merged in 2010, as Reuters reported, but still have not completely integrated.

The reason for the buyout is an attempt to control costs. Of all the major U.S. carriers, United is the only to have lost money in a quarter this year, according to Bloomberg. The first quarter net loss was $609 million, although it had net income of $789 million in the second quarter.

The airline is reportedly looking for at least 2,100 attendants to take the offer over the next two years, as a United spokesperson told AOL Jobs.

According to the Associated Press, the buy-out "will help it match staffing to its flight schedule and produce a labor contract with the union." By targeting more senior attendants, the company looks to eliminate higher salary and benefit packages and work with younger, less costly staff.

There are currently 1,450 furloughed attendants, both voluntary and involuntary. The number of involuntary furloughed attendants was 111, according to a July 2014 AFA posting. The union blamed "United's poor operational performance" in part on "a lack of structure within the operation," which could eventually affect "passenger's confidence".

United had planned additional involuntary furloughs of up to 600 attendants, starting in October 2014, according to an AFA post.

The union released a statement that said the program provided "real options" for attendants. "Through our collective work, Flight Attendants will have a unique opportunity to continue moving up the seniority list and furthering their careers while providing the ability to pursue other endeavors to those who choose," the statement read.
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