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U.S. aviation sector cuts more jobs amid travel meltdown

U.S. airlines are slashing hundreds of thousands of flights, cutting schedules by 80% or more through at least June and parking thousands of jets as demand for tickets has plunged by about 95%. Airlines are requiring facial coverings and implementing new cleaning procedures to try to convince passengers it is safe to fly again, but also fear the weakened economy may further drag down demand.

Late Friday, Spirit AeroSystems said that in response to lower production rates from Boeing Co and Airbus SE it would layoff 1,450 workers in Kansas.

“This sudden drop in air travel has forced our customers to adjust to lower demand from airlines, many of which are seeking to defer or cancel airplane orders,” Spirit AeroSystems Chief Executive Tom Gentile said. “All indications right now tell us this lower demand for new commercial airplanes is likely to last for several years.”

Numerous airlines have warned that without a dramatic turnaround in passenger numbers they will be forced to make new significant cuts before year end.

United Airlines is reducing working hours by 25% for 15,000 employees starting May 24, drawing criticism from an employee union and some U.S. lawmakers who contend that the move violates the terms of the $5 billion payroll assistance United is receiving from the Treasury.

Last month, General Electric Co said it was furloughing 50% of workers in U.S. engine assembly and component manufacturing operations, a move that impacted thousands of employees. That followed the 2,600 U.S. job cuts announced in March by GE’s aviation unit, which makes engines for Boeing and Airbus.

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