By Kyle Peterson

June 24, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - UAL Corp, parent of United Airlines, said on Monday it plans to lay off 950 pilots as it prepares to cut domestic capacity to offset soaring fuel prices.

"As we reduce the size of our fleet and take actions companywide to enable United to compete in an environment of record fuel prices, we must take the difficult but necessary step to reduce the number of people we have to run our business," the No. 2 U.S. carrier said in a statement.

The latest layoffs involve nearly 15 percent of United's 6,518 pilots. The carrier has said it plans to cut its staff by 1,400 to 1,600 as it aims to reduce domestic capacity by 14 percent in the fourth quarter.

The airline industry has been battered by record high fuel costs, and major carriers are groping for stability through capacity cuts that enable them to run leaner operations and charge higher fares.

A spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents United pilots, was not immediately available for comment.

"We continue discussions with ALPA and all of our unions on ways to mitigate involuntary furloughs, and we are working to notify all of our employee groups about furloughs as soon as we know the impact of our capacity reductions," UAL said.

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photo: A passenger walks by the empty counter at the United Airlines Terminal at O'Hare International airport in Chicago June 4, 2008 (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)