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United Airlines to cut 4,700 employees in Houston, Dallas

Other companies announcing coronavirus-related layoffs in Texas include Grocers Supply and Pilot Thomas Logistics.

United Airlines said layoffs of more than 4,700 employees at airports in Houston and Dallas could be long term if economic conditions do not change. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

United Airlines said Friday that it will lay off more than 4,700 workers in Houston and Dallas beginning Oct. 1, according to its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice filed in Texas.

The layoffs come as United said on Wednesday it could cut as many as 36,000 employees nationwide — nearly 40% of its workforce — due to the pandemic, which has crippled air travel globally.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much change in our personal and professional lives and will result in us being a smaller airline,” said Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources and labor relations for United in a letter to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). “Based on current demand, while we are hopeful the reductions for our frontline team members will be temporary, we presently anticipate that they will last six months or longer.”

United said it will be cutting 71 jobs at DFW International Airport and 3,904 at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. An additional 781 employees received layoff notices at two other facilities in Houston, a major hub for United.

“Even if demand continues to slowly improve, it is unfortunately very likely that we will need to adjust the size of the company to reflect lower demand levels and implement a workforce reduction to reduce our labor expenses, beginning on Oct. 1,” Gebo said.

United did not specify which positions it would be cutting, but local employees in Dallas and Houston include flight attendants, pilots, ground crew, catering staff, mechanics and others.

Other companies announcing layoffs in Texas include Houston-based GSC Wholesale (which does business as Grocers Supply). The company said it is closing its administrative offices and laying off 90 people in Houston, according to its filing with the TWC.

“GSC Wholesale is taking steps to be more efficient and reduce costs,” said lan Kintisch, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for parent company C&S Wholesale Grocers. 

Grocers Supply is one of the largest wholesale grocery suppliers in Texas, supplying more than 900 independent grocery stores across the state. Grocers Supply has 217 trucks and 231 drivers, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Pilot Thomas Logistics said it will be laying off a total of 79 employees in Odessa. The Fort Worth-based company is a petroleum, fuel, chemical and lubricants provider for various industries, with more than 500 trucks and 800 drivers, according to the FMCSA.

“As a result of the unforeseeable, dramatic downturn in business related to the coronavirus natural disaster, and rapidly changing petroleum supply and demand dynamics couple with declining oil prices, permanent layoffs will take place in [Odessa],” wrote Michelle Figurski, Pilot’s vice president of human resources, to the TWC.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]