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United cutting US flights because of coronavirus

New York (CNN Business)United Airlines became the first airline to cut its US flight schedule on Wednesday, as passenger worry about the coronavirus has caused a sharp drop in demand.While airlines around the world have been making steep cuts in international flights, this is the first set of cuts made to a US flight schedule.United…

New York (CNN Business)United Airlines became the first airline to cut its US flight schedule on Wednesday, as passenger worry about the coronavirus has caused a sharp drop in demand.

While airlines around the world have been making steep cuts in international flights, this is the first set of cuts made to a US flight schedule.
United will ax flights in the United States and Canada by 10% and overseas flights by a total 20% in April from its original international schedule. That includes overseas flights that were canceled several weeks ago. United is looking at similar domestic and international cuts in May.
The moves were disclosed in an email Wednesday to employees made available to CNN. It also disclosed a hiring freeze, a program of voluntary unpaid leaves of absences or a reduced schedule for US employees and a delay of scheduled pay raises for management employees.
The airline plans to cut the schedule “in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation,” according to the email, including reducing frequency of flights per week between two cities or cutting routes with alternative travel options via indirect flights.
The email did not give details about how much travel had fallen at United amid the growing fears of the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. The crisis “continues to evolve rapidly” for the airline industry, said the email from CEO Oscar Munoz, and Scott Kirby, United’s president who is set to succeed Munoz in May.
“We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough, but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible moving forward in how we respond,” said the email.
United had already warned investors that the crisis had cut virtually all of its revenue on flights to China and Hong Kong during the current quarter, and about 75% on other trans-Pacific flights. But it said that it still expects to hit its earnings target for the quarter due partly to lower spending on fuel. Besides the fuel savings that comes from canceling flights, the price of jet fuel has plunged in recent weeks.
But the email did not give any new guidance on earnings. And it warned that “a lot has changed since this weekend.”
Shares of United (UAL) closed up 2% on Wednesday as stocks rebounded from a recent sell-off. But shares are still down 23.8% since Feb. 21.
American Airlines (AAL) was the only US airline to immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans in light of United’s announcement.
“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will make any updates as necessary,” said

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