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United offering time off to pilots, pointing to delays in Boeing deliveries

United Airlines is offering its pilots time off for the month of May, pointing to “recent delays in Boeing deliveries.”

“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,” a United Airlines spokesperson told The Hill.

While the spokesperson said the time off would be voluntary, they did not immediately confirm CNBC reporting that the time would be unpaid.

In January, United CEO Scott Kirby expressed his frustration with “consistent manufacturing challenges” at Boeing.

Kirby said at the time that Boeing needed “real action” to restore its reputation, adding that he had spoken to Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, to air his frustration. Calhoun has since announced he would step down from his post.

“Well, look, you know, we’re Boeing’s biggest customer in the world. They’re our biggest partner in the world,” Kirby told CNBC. “We need Boeing to succeed … but they’ve been having these consistent manufacturing challenges, and they need to take action together.”

Kirby’s comments came after U.S. regulators temporarily grounded most Boeing 737 Max 9 jets after a panel, or a “door plug,” blew off an Alaska Airlines jetliner 16,000 feet above Oregon on Jan. 5, meaning United could not use its 79 Max 9s.

United also has a standing order for larger Max 10 jets, but The Associated Press noted that model is years behind schedule for Federal Aviation Administration certification.

Boeing declined to comment on the latest development, and United’s chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) did not respond to a request for comment.

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