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Fri, May 21, 2010

UPS To Furlough As Many As 300 Pilots

54 Will Be Grounded Beginning Next Week

In what it says is a cost-cutting measure, United Parcel Service (UPS) has announced it is going through with  the furlough of as many as 300 pilots as part of a effort to cut $1.4 billion in overhead. The plan was first unvieled in February, and the first 54 are scheduled to be idled beginning next week.

The Business Journal of Greensboro, North Carolina reports that UPS says the furloughs are necessary because it has more pilots that it currently needs. It has cut the number of operational aircraft to 214 from 262 at it peak in 2003. It has also retired many of the older aircraft which require a crew of three, and is flying 15 percent fewer hours as the result of the economic downturn.

In a written statement, UPS justified the furlough as a cost saving measure. "At an average expense of $185,000 per year in pay and benefits, a well-run airline cannot afford to just ‘carry’ pilots in hopes that business will improve quickly," the statement read.

The Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS pilots, says the pilots have voluntarily assisted UPS in a attempt to forestall the furloughs. The union says that pilots took reductions in flight pay guarantees, unpaid leave, and other measures to generate cost savings for UPS. Capt. Robert Thrush, President of the API, said pilots took it on themselves to produce over $100 million in savings, which he says should keep the pilots employed into next year.

""UPS has crossed a line by furloughing 300 pilots," Thrush said. "We had cost-savings on the table that would save all of these jobs and UPS chose not to take that cost-savings and to lay the pilots off anyway. When UPS hired each one of us here, they made a commitment to all of us that this was the last job we would ever have or ever need."

It is the first time UPS has furloughed pilots in the 22 years of the operation of UPS Airlines.

FMI: www.ups.com. www.ipapilot.org

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