On Thursday, 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.
By early in the evening, Southwest had canceled around 650 flights, which is 21% of its Thursday schedule. A spokesperson for the airline reportedly said it was addressing issues caused by very cold weather at multiple airports and a large number of employees calling out sick because they either have COVID-19 or are quarantining because they were a close contact of somebody who had COVID-19.
“Alaska had scrubbed about 125, or 17% of its flights,” ABC noted.
In a statement, the airline reportedly said, “the continued impacts of omicron have been disruptive in all our lives and unprecedented employee sick calls have impacted our ability to operate our airline reliably.” Alaska said cutting back on flights through the end of the month “will give us the flexibility and capacity needed to reset.”
The Washington Post further reported on Thursday:
Southwest had canceled 646 flights, about 21 percent of scheduled departures. United, which had shown improvement in recent days, canceled 236 flights, about 11 percent of the carrier’s scheduled departures. SkyWest canceled 264 flights, about 11 percent of flights scheduled for the day. The Utah-based carrier, which partners with United, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines to carry passengers on smaller routes, has struggled for days.
Flight cancellations in the United States started going up around the Christmas holiday, hitting massive numbers.
The Daily Wire reported that some airlines are more than tripling compensation for some workers in the midst of the ongoing cancellations.
“As The Daily Wire previously reported, firms are canceling flights as they experience staff shortages due to the Omicron variant. JetBlue, for instance, nixed 1,280 flights between December 30 and January 13,” it noted.
CNBC reported that United Airlines is going to increase pay for pilots who work extra flights:
United and the pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, reached an agreement for higher pay to cover open trips, Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations said Friday in a staff note, which was seen by CNBC.
Pilots will be offered three-and-a-half times their pay for flying open trips between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3 and triple pay for picking up trips between Jan. 4 and Jan. 29, the note said.
USA Today reported, “[t]he staffing shortage has prompted Southwest to extend holiday bonus pay for flight attendants through Jan. 25, a policy announced to employees on Wednesday.”
“Our hope is to hope is to stabilize the operation again as we work through winter storms, navigate the national COVID-19 spike, and maintain sufficient staffing,” Sonya Lacore, vice president of inflight operations, said in a memo, per the outlet.
“There is no better way for me to express my thoughts other than to say that we need you – each one of you – in order to successfully make it through this,” Lacore said. “We know that we are asking you to keep fighting the fight with us, and that it likely feels as though we continue to ask for more from you. While we ask you to hang in there, we want to do all we can to reward you for going the distance.”