United cutting flights in April amid coronavirus outbreak

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A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey.

Chris Helgren | Reuters

United Airlines announced deep cuts to its schedule next month and a hiring freeze amid the global coronavirus outbreak and slowing demand. 

The airline will cut international flights by 20% and domestic flights by 10% next month. Some wide-body planes will be parked, the company said Wednesday. New hiring will be suspended through “at least” June 30, “except for roles that are critical to our operation,” the airline said.

United shares fell after its announcement but later recovered, trading up 0.6% on the day, much less than its competitors.

Airlines around the world have cut back on itineraries as COVID-19 hamstrings travel. The viral outbreak, which originated in China, has spread to dozens of countries, prompting large companies to scale back on business travel.

Companies like Target and Google have turned to webcasts instead of in-person gatherings, and several high-profile conferences have been canceled. Companies, including automakers Ford and Fiat Chrysler, have banned non-essential travel. 

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