Big Island Coronavirus Updates

United Airlines to Cut Flights Due to COVID-19

March 4, 2020, 4:57 PM HST
* Updated March 12, 6:40 PM
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United Airlines photo.

United Airlines is reducing its international and domestic flights — including to and from Hawai‘i — due to impacts of COVID-19.

A decline in bookings has led the company to reduce its international schedule by 20% in April. Additionally, the lower demand among US travelers has forced the company to reduce its flights across the US and Canada by 10%, also in April. New flight schedules will be available March 7.

Daily flights from San Francisco to Honolulu have been cut back to four daily trips, officials said Wednesday. The airline has already begun similar reductions in May. Officials will continue to review its schedules.

Company leaders, Oscar Munoz and Scott Kirby, sent a letter to all United Airlines employees to inform them of the changes, which include voluntary unpaid leave of absence and a hiring freeze through at least June 30, 2020.

Salary increases will be postponed for all management and administrative employees, including officers of the company, will be postponed from April 1 until July 1, 2020. All employees covered by collective bargaining agreements will continue to receive their scheduled increases.

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“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,” the letter indicated. “We are confident that if we continue to stick together as one United family, we will emerge from (this) challenge better positioned than ever to take United to new heights.”

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United will waive change fees for any booking — domestic or international — scheduled between March 3 and March 31, 2020.

“All of our schedule reductions are, importantly, being implemented in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation,” the letter states. “…We’re reducing the number of frequencies per week, finding routes with alternative travel options via other United hubs and delaying start dates for seasonal travel to certain destinations — without closing any domestic stations.”

Munoz and Kirby stated the commitment to the safety of the employees and travelers hasn’t wavered.

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“We remain in close contact with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, federal officials and other health organizations as we take a variety of steps to keep our customers and employees safe,” they said. “We’ll continue to keep you in the loop as we implement additional safety measures moving forward.”

China’s Hubei Province is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, also known as Coronavirus. Several flights to Asia and surrounding areas have already been limited or canceled, and travel advisories exist for several international destinations.

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