3,000 United Airlines Workers Out Due To COVID-19, Leading To Flight Cancellations And Delays
Travelers wait to check in at the United Airlines ticket counter at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

United Airlines has around 3,000 workers out due to COVID-19 the company’s CEO reported on Tuesday, leading to numerous flight cancellations nationwide.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby shared the information in a public letter to team members posted on the company’s website Tuesday as nearly 20,000 flights across multiple airlines in the U.S. have occurred since Christmas Eve.

“Our frontline teams continue to put in a tremendous effort during what I know is an incredibly challenging and stressful time – the Omicron surge has put a strain on our operation, resulting in customer disruptions during a busy holiday season. I appreciate your professionalism, creativity, and caring approach – it’s really made all the difference in helping us manage the impact on our customers,” Kirby wrote.

“In addition to impacting our operation and our customers, I also know that Omicron has affected the personal well-being of our United team. We have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID. Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick. To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery,” he added.

In a ray of good news, Kirby noted that none of the company’s vaccinated employees are currently hospitalized.

“While we have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID, zero of our vaccinated employees are currently hospitalized,” he said.

United Airlines previously announced a vaccine mandate for staff members.

“Kirby said last month about 200 employees did not comply with United’s mandate and were fired out of its 67,000 employees. He added about 6 pilots were fired and 80 put on unpaid leave out of about 13,000,” Reuters reported.

The company also noted “more than 96% of its employees have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a request for an accommodation,” in the report.

The Daily Wire reported last week that the majority of airline workers who have tested positive for the Omicron variant have been fully vaccinated:

On Monday, The Daily Wire’s “Morning Wire” podcast revealed that in wake of massive absences due to COVID-19, major airlines such as United and Spirit Airlines are reportedly offering employees more pay to help cover shifts for colleagues out of commission due to the illness. In a memo obtained by The Daily Wire, United specifically cited Omicron as having caused a “significant” increase in pilot illness, making the higher pay necessary to keep flights on track. Despite the airline industry being heavily vaccinated, the Omicron variant has caused an uptick in COVID-19 absences.

As the Morning Wire reported, more than 4,000 flights were canceled just this past weekend. While a massive storm in Chicago was partly to blame, it appears the main driver has been amongst pilots.

United Airlines’ CEO Scott Kirby had previously stated that the company had been forced to fire “just six of its 13,000-strong pilot group” who did not get the vaccine despite a company mandate.

Other airlines have also faced staff shortages due to COVID-19. On Thursday, The Daily Wire reported that Alaska Airlines announced it will be cutting down its flight schedule by around 10% for the remainder of the month of January as it addresses ongoing staffing and weather issues.

ABC News reported:

Alaska’s announcement came on a day in which more than 2,100 U.S. flights were canceled by early evening on the East Coast, according to FlightAware. The tracking service said that equaled about 8% of the day’s scheduled flights, and it was the 12th straight day of 1,000-plus cancellations, which airlines blamed on the virus surge and winter weather.

Worldwide, airlines had canceled about 4,700 flights.

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