It’s not just frontline employees and office clerical workers at United Airlines who will be taking a hit; some long-term, high-level management employees will also be forced out of the company this autumn.
Live and Let’s Fly received a list of senior staff who will be terminated effective October 1, 2020 (their jobs are also protected until that date under the CARES Act). At least eight senior employees will lose their portions. Furthermore, at least five other officer level positions currently vacant will not be refilled. Although that information was disseminated internally but companywide at United several days ago, I am not going to make it public here.
With one exception.
Jill Kaplan will be leaving the company. She is currently United’s President for New York/New Jersey, a position created in 2017 to promote United in New York City. At the time, United described the position in this way:
“This newly established role, the top market leadership position for United in the region, will lead the promotion of United’s brand within the New York metropolitan area, home to the carrier’s New York/New Jersey hub at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Kaplan will work closely with all integral departments including government affairs, marketing, sales and more, as well as with the local airport authority, to ensure United continues on its path to becoming the best airline for its customers, employees and everyone it serves.”
When she joined the company, now-CEO Scott Kirby said:
“As we gain momentum in building a more customer-centric airline, placing a key executive in New York will only increase our ability to deliver on this commitment. Jill will have a singular focus on making United the number one airline in New York and New Jersey, one of the most competitive regions in the world, and I am confident that her leadership will propel United to new heights.”
So was she successful and her services are no longer needed or did United decide that New Yorkers would fly United with or without a President?
Kaplan is talented, witty, and should have no trouble landing a new and better role for herself. My interest is more in United’s strategic decision to abandon this position. Is Janet Lamkin, United’s President of California, also in jeopardy of losing her position?
United Airlines Management Cuts May Not Be Over
The unsigned memo warns that more cuts may be to come:
“These decisions are never easy. Each of these leaders has made significant contributions to the United family during their careers with us and we are a better company because of them. They will spend the next several weeks assisting with transition plans and will remain with the company through September 30. Many of these reorganizations will result in further reporting structure changes for impacted team members and we will share those details in the coming days.”
Jobs cuts and restructuring are never easy. With the recovery from the pandemic likely to be much more gradual than initially hoped for, it won’t just be pilots and flight attendants losing jobs, but many senior members of the team whose positions have been consolidated or can no longer be justified during a time of depressed revenue.
I do find the decision to eliminate Kaplan’s position quite interesting, especially as rebuilding traffic in New York will be key in United’s overall recovery efforts.