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Baggage handlers on the United Airlines jet ramp at O'Hare International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

Baggage handlers on the United Airlines jet ramp at O’Hare International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/TNS)

United Airlines is making significant cuts to international and domestic flights as the coronavirus outbreak hits the global travel industry.

United plans to slash its schedule of international flights by 20% in April, with similar reductions expected in May, airline executives said in a letter to employees Wednesday. The airline is also reducing scheduled flights in the U.S. and Canada by 10% in April.

Fewer flights mean fewer opportunities for the airline’s crew members to work. The airline is giving employees the option to apply for a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence. Some may be able to seek a reduced schedule.

United is also implementing a hiring freeze through at least June 30, except for critical roles, and may postpone some training classes for new hires. United also said it will postpone 2019 merit-based salary increases for management and administrative employees from April 1 to July 1, though union employees will receive scheduled increases.

“We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough, but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible moving forward in how we respond,” airline executives said in the letter.

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