Continued flight cancellations and an increasing number of Covid-19-positive staff exacerbate the already difficult situation for tamerican aviation industry. Now, after thousands of missed flights and a shortage of workers, some airlines like United are deciding to cut back on their schedules as a precaution.
In a letter, United CEO Scott Kirby acknowledged the change in schedule, as well as the increase in layoffs and sick workers published on LinkedIn on Tuesday. Kirby claimed that 3,000 United workers were positive for Covid-19 and that as many as a third of the company’s workforce in Newark, New Jersey called the disease in one day. Those 3,000 workers make up about 4% of United’s total workforce, according to CNBC.
The CEO hopes new efforts to reduce United’s schedule will potentially enable the company to support what is currently available limited staff and resources. United is not alone either. JetBlue Airlines recently announced that it will take preventive action cancel 1,280 flights for the first half of January, while Alaska Airlines plans to cut about 10% of its flights in January. In all, about 5,000 flights across U.S. airlines were canceled over the past weekend to FlightAware data noticed in The New York Times.
However, not all bad news. Kirby is also credited with United debatable The mandate of the Covid-19 vaccine to prevent any of its workers from dying or being hospitalized from the virus so far. The vast majority of United’s workforce is currently vaccinated, although there are about 2,000 employees allegedly applied for medical or religious exemptions.
“Since our vaccine policy went into effect, the hospitalization rate among our employees has been 100 times lower than the general population in the U.S.,” Kirby said. “Prior to our request for the vaccine, tragically, more than one United employee died on average * per week * from COVID. But we have now gone eight consecutive weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees — based on previous United experience and nationwide data on COVID deaths among unvaccinated employees, which means that it is approximately 8- 10 United employees alive today because of our vaccine requests. ”
At the time of writing, most major U.S. airlines now require their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, although there are some notable exceptions. Delta, for example, still does not require employee vaccinations even though it was previously done by the company’s CEO claimed 90% of its employees have been vaccinated regardless of tenure. Southwest Airlines has also not yet requested vaccinations for its employees.
Mass layoffs and worker the calls are based on what was disastrous for the airline industry last month. Thousands of passengers and airline workers lost their lives over the holidays as virus-related disruptions and weather events led to nearly 4,000 flights canceled on Christmas Eve and Christmas itself. Since then, airlines have been constantly canceling hundreds daily flights. The CDC, in the midst of this wave of cancellations, officially abbreviated recommended period of isolation and quarantine for asymptomatic or recovering individuals who were positive for Covid-19 from 10 to five days.
Although this is difficult to imagine, it is possible that the situation could be exacerbated as the omicron variant spreads to more regions and quickly becomes the cause irresistible most cases of Covid-19. With shortening upcoming schedules, some airlines like United and Southwest are trying to combat the oversaturation of sick workers by offering double (and even triple) pay pilots for more trips.