United asks pilots to take unpaid time off as Boeing issues persist

United already warned that it would have to slow pilot hiring this year due to Boeing delays

United Airlines pilots are being asked to take unpaid time off next month as the carrier contends with Boeing manufacturing delays. 

"We can confirm that due to the recent delays in Boeing deliveries, our forecasted block hours for 2024 have been reduced and we are offering our pilots voluntary programs for the month of May to reduce excess staffing," the carrier told FOX Business in a statement. 

United didn't offer any specifics on the matter. 

FAA STEPPING UP OVERSIGHT OF UNITED AIRLINES, MAY PAUSE SOME CERTIFICATIONS

However, the announcement shows how safety concerns involving Boeing's 737 Max are still impacting some of its biggest customers. Boeing was told it is not allowed to expand production of its 737 Max planes while regulators investigate the company and its supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. The investigation follows an incident in January involving a Boeing 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines in which a door plug on the aircraft blew out mid-flight.

According to a recent regulatory filing, United anticipated receiving 77 Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets in 2024. Now, it expects only 56. 

United Airlines airplanes

United Airlines planes at Newark Liberty International Airport on Jan. 27, 2024, in New Jersey. (Gary Hershorn / Getty Images)

It also doesn't expect any Max 10 deliveries this year and is unable to accurately forecast its expectations due to the delay in the plane's certification as the FAA further investigates the Alaska Airlines Max 9 incident. 

UNITED AIRLINES CEO ADDRESSES STRING OF INCIDENTS, TELLS PASSENGERS CARRIER IS SAFE

In early March, United warned that it was temporarily pausing pilot hiring in May and June due to new aircraft certification and manufacturing delays at Boeing.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 41.04 -0.76 -1.82%
BA THE BOEING CO. 167.82 -1.73 -1.02%

The company said it planned to resume those classes in July, given that "United Aviate and United Military Pilot Program participants remain a top hiring priority." 

Still, the company said it will slow the pace of hiring in 2024.

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jet aircraft.

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jet aircraft (United Airlines / Fox News)

"United has hundreds of new planes on order and while we remain on a path to be the fastest growing airline in the industry, we just won’t grow as fast as we thought we would in 2024 due to continued delays at Boeing," Marc Champion, vice president of flight operations, and Kirk Limacher, vice president of flight operations, planning and development, said in a memo seen by FOX Business. 

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Boeing has already announced a major leadership shakeup – including CEO Dave Calhoun stepping down at the end of the year – as federal safety regulators press Boeing to make "profound improvements." Regulators had found quality issues during an audit of 737 Max manufacturing processes.

FOX Business reached out to Boeing and the Air Line Pilots Association for comment.