Recent delays in Boeing deliveries have compelled United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) to ask its pilots to take unpaid time off during May, the company confirmed to ch-aviation.

“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,” it said in a mailed statement.

The United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) also confirmed to ch-aviation the measures taken by the carrier.

United Airlines has recently been hit by several setbacks, at least one of them being self-inflicted, after a number of inflight incidents led the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase its oversight of the company to ensure that it complies with safety regulations and possibly delay the certification of future projects.

During the airline’s 2023 fourth-quarter investors call, its management said it had 107 aircraft scheduled to deliver in 2024, with 31 of these being B737-9s, but “it is unrealistic at this time to believe that all those aircraft will deliver as currently planned.”

Additionally, the carrier was forced to take the B737-10 out of its internal planning due to ongoing delays in certifying the type. Mike Leskinen, chief financial officer, confirmed during the investors call that United is working through an alternate plan, as the company expects its growth rate to slow in the coming years. Chief executive Scott Kirby later said at the JPMorgan conference on March 12 that it was impossible to say when the MAX 10 will be certified.

Instead of the B737-10, United Airlines has asked Boeing to focus on the MAX 9 variant, which can be delivered in a more predictable timeframe.

United Airlines has 715 aircraft on order, including 277 from the -10 variant (the largest customer of the type globally), 31 of the B737-9 and 39 of the B737-8, according to ch-aviation fleets data. The US carrier also has due for delivery 150 B787-9s, 123 A321-200NX, fifty A321-200NY(XLR)s, and forty-five A350-900s.