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United Airlines to lay off 556 in Tampa, Orlando

The company expects to start cutting back staff in October.

Amid crushing losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, United Airlines has told Florida officials it plans to lay off 556 workers at Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport.

Orlando will bear the brunt of the layoffs, with 447 technicians, flight attendants and other employees losing jobs. Another 109 will lose jobs in Tampa, where United has about 860 employees in and outside the airport.

Last week, the company reported a $1.6 billion quarterly loss, reflecting what it said was as much as a 95 percent drop in passenger traffic.

“We have lost billions of dollars over this three-month period and are still spending far more than we are taking in,” Kate Gebo, United’s executive vice president for human resources and labor relations, wrote in a letter to the state. “Additionally, we expect that travel demand will not go back to ‘normal’ until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.”

Airlines that received financial assistance as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are required not to lay off employees before October, although United has said more than 6,000 employees have already taken buyouts. Earlier this summer, the company prepared layoff and furlough notices for up to 36,000 employees.

Several companies that operate out of Tampa International have already laid off or furloughed hundreds of employees, including rental car agency Hertz, the Tampa Airport Marriott and corporations that operate restaurants and newsstands.