This seems to be a win-win solution for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines pilots.

United announced Thursday afternoon that about 100 to 200 jobs at Continental will be offered to United pilots who are on furlough.

This is a most unusual situation in that the two airlines are owned by the same company and will eventually fly together as United Airlines, but still have separate operating certificates, separate pilot contracts and separate seniority lists.

“We are pleased that through cooperation with the Air Line Pilots Association, we are able to offer the opportunity for these United pilots to come back to work,” said Fred Abbott, United Continental senior vice president of flight operations . “We will continue to focus on negotiating a single contract for all of our pilots as we work towards our single operating certificate.”

In June, the Continental unit of ALPA filed two grievances accusing the parent of violating the union’s scope clause. One was because Continental was selling Boeing 767s, meaning there would be less flying by Continental pilots. The second was because the ratio of Continental flying of twin-aisle aircraft compared to United’s would tilt more in United’s favor.

UPDATE:ALPA at United applauded the announcement and added that “It is the hope of the United Chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association that these are the first of a wave of recalls that will eventually lead to the return of all our 1,437 furloughed pilots.”

“When a furloughed United pilot returns to our cockpits, whether United or subsidiary Continental, it is welcome news,” said Wendy Morse, chairman of ALPA’s master executive council at United. “No pilots have paid a higher price for the recent shocks to the aviation industry than the 1,437 United pilots who have been on furlough.”

The ALPA release had this explanation of how the cross-airline hirings will affect the seniority list:

While these pilots will be hired to staff Continental aircraft, they will retain seniority rights in position on the United pilot seniority list. The seniority lists of both carriers will only be merged after the completion of a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement allowing United to recognize the benefits of finally completing the merger.

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