United isn’t parking these airplanes to spend money on them.
Right now the airports that I'm hearing UA management is looking at to park aircraft are CLE, IAH, HOU and perhaps IAD. With just the Asian reductions both SFO and EWR are out of room no more aircraft can be parked at these locations.
All of this was just announced internally today there will be more concrete information available on March 7th according to our leaders. But from what I've heard UA is not planning on sending any aircraft to the dessert or planning to retire any aircraft because there is still uncertainty as around how COVID-19 will respond as the temperature warms. From what I've heard (this is not rumor) UA wants to be in a position to add capacity back into the market if the virus behaves like the flu virus and the number of cases begin dropping and people resume traveling.
This is also the reason UA is offering unpaid time off to employees not layoffs (yet). Each department can choose how much block time up to six months but from what I'm hearing many departments will begin offering employees 1-3 weeks, 1 month, or 2-3 months off without pay. Instead of only offering 3 months or 6 months at a time (the entire block). The thinking is if you may not get enough volunteers to take 3 whole months off but you might have a lot of people in your department who may want to take 1 week or 2 weeks without pay. By breaking it down there may be more takers than just offering a block 3-6 months without pay. Each operations manager at some point will have meeting with their leadership team to try and figure out options that work best for their employees, and this is across the board.
Having said that here is the really bad news while UA is only planning to trim domestic capacity by 10% and international capacity by 20% (and this will be on a rolling bases meaning for now this just effects the March and April, they are assessing and will continue to assess May and June. If the situation does not improve then May and June will be reduced 10% domestically and 20% internationally next up would be July and August.) However if the situation has not improved by September then that is when the hammer will drop (I took that to mean major cuts domestically and internationally) and that is all that I can say on that. Finger crossed it does not come to that.