United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has delivered a somber yet strangely uplifting address to employees concerning impending furloughs in a video message reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly.
United CEO Scott Kirby Informs Employees Of Coming Furloughs
Kirby said he was “saddened” to deliver what would probably be his “hardest” video message ever. There was a deep sense of emotion in his voice, like he was about to cry. I know most will dismiss this as crocodile tears, but I’ve offered positive impressions of Kirby long before he took over as CEO. Of course there have been many “Kirby Kutbacks” I think are just foolish, but he has been brutally honest and is probably the best person at the helm of United right now to ensure its survival.
Anyway, he noted that the pandemic has lasted much longer and been far worse than initially expected. This made United’s early goal of avoiding involuntary furloughs practically impossible. Indeed, United Chairman and former CEO Oscar Munoz told CNN yesterday that the airline industry might need to shrink in half in oder to survive.
On October 1, 2020, United plans to shed the following jobs:
|Group||~ Job Losses|
|Management and Administrative||1,400|
|Network Operations Center (NOC)||180|
Kirby paints the dilemma of saving the airline at the expense of some jobs or saving jobs at the expense of the airline and eventually everyone’s job. He thanks those employees who took an early separation package or voluntary furlough and the unions for their work to forge compromises.
Hopeful Parting Words
Near the end of his two and a half minute message, Kirby addressed employees who will soon be furloughed:
“You are still part of the United family. We care deeply about you. And we will be here for you to come back if you want to when the crisis is over.
“I’m confident that we will get back to our great customer service, investing in that, confident we’ll get back to growth, and that we will have a wonderful company for you to come back to.
“I very much look forward to welcoming each and every one of you back with open arms and in a world where we can once again shake hands or hug if we want to. I look forward to that day.”
I like that message. If I was an employee about to be furloughed, I’d be very sad, but very understanding that it is impossible to keep a full staff when demand has dropped by more than 50% and we’re now heading into the shoulder season with no vaccine in sight.
We’ll be hearing similar messaging from other airline CEOs in the days ahead and I can only hope that their optimism about a better time in the future is more than a pipe dream. In the meantime, employees are looking ahead for new opportunities, even if payroll support is extended at the last-minute.
image: Scott Kirby / Instagram