United Continental Cuts Flights, Jobs From Cleveland Hub

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United Continental Holdings (NYSE:UAL) will cut the number of daily departures from its Cleveland hub starting in April on account of insufficient demand, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. The parent company of United Airlines plans to slash operations by about 60 percent, leading to a reduction of 470 jobs. The airline will keep about 25 big-jet departures, but small-plane flights by its regional air partners will be reduced by more than 70 percent.

The cut comes at a time when United, along with many other major airlines, is feeling the effect of a new federal rule requiring new pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight experience instead of 250 hours. That rule has caused a pilot shortage and a deficiency in the ranks of regional pilots, resulting in a scarcity of pilots for big airlines because they usually recruit aviators from regional carriers.

These shortfalls have made it hard for United to operate its schedules effectively, per the Journal, and now the airline is being forced to cut its operations at its money-losing Cleveland hub by about 36 percent based on seats offered. CEO Jeff Smisek said to the publication, “Although this is an industry issue, it directly affects us and requites us to reduce our regional-partner flying, as several of our regional partner are beginning to have difficult flying their schedules due to reduced new-pilot availability.”

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