United Airlines Cuts Schedule Amid Omicron Surge
United Airlines said on Tuesday that about 4% of its U.S. employees, or about 3,000 workers, have tested positive for COVID-19. But, United added that vaccinated employees had neither died nor recently been hospitalized with the disease.
But their absence has created problems for the airline. It announced it is reducing its flight schedule in hopes of stemming Covid-related staffing shortages that have caused thousands of flight cancellations across the industry.
United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby said in a company-wide memo the airline was “reducing our near-term schedules to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers.” He did not specify by how much the airline is cutting back on its flight schedule, but the memo added that “the Omicron surge has put a strain on our operation, resulting in customer disruptions during a busy holiday season.” He also thanked employees for their professionalism in handling the delays.
United is not the only airline to take such measures during the latest Covid-19 surge. JetBlue Airways recently reduced its schedule by about 1,280 flights, roughly 10% of its schedule, from January 6 through January 13. Alaska Airlines also cut back its January schedule by 10%.