Then came the Omigron variant of the Covid-19. Its headquarters in New York, which leads the country in a number of new cases, JetBlue sank quickly. Daily sick calls are four times higher. On December 21, JetBlue did not cancel any flights. Four days later, on Christmas Day, 12% of its schedule was removed.
“Due to the rapid increase, you will come to the point where you run out of all your reserves,” said CEO Robin Hayes.
According to data compiled by FlightAware, airlines have been battling one of the toughest and most frequent mass cancellation events of the last decade. U.S. Govt-19 infections, which did not increase holiday travel, increased rapidly beyond the control of carriers, wreaking havoc on already extended flight attendants. Carriers are now evaluating how to better manage the difficult period, at least for the next few weeks.
There are airlines More than 1,000 U.S. flights were canceled daily Another winter storm brought snow to Boston and New York for 13 consecutive days, including more than 2,500 on Friday.
From Christmas Eve to January 6, the number of scrubbed planes exceeded 24,000, with nearly 7% of airlines planning to fly, according to flight surveillance service FlightAware.
For airlines, the rise of the epidemic is entering a new phase. Unlike in the beginning of 2020, when the crowds of frightened travelers canceled trips, the new variants were distorted, but did not reduce the appetite for travel. But airlines are still rebuilding their operations. The twin challenges of increasing the number of staff calling for sickness after a Govt-19 infection or exposure and severe winter storms that hit key centers from Seattle to Chicago to Washington, DC have been created. Perfect conditions for travel confusion.
Sarah Nelson, president of the Air Assistants Association, told CWA that it was clear that a problem was developing at the start of Christmas week.
“Thanksgiving is upon us, which means the holiday season is in full swing. We had two things: we had no Omigron and we had no winter storms, ”he said. “No one saw Omigron coming.”
The problem spun As more workers were affected. “I received notices that the entire crew was doing a positive test and that they were out of the country and where the other crew was not. There was no way to get that plane back,” Ms Nelson said.
Delta Airlines Inc.
First flagged the potential for disruption. CEO Ed Bastian, the airline’s chief health officer and medical consultant, Dec. On the 21st he asked the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to halve its recommended isolation period for those who have been fully vaccinated, with the progress of Kovit. 19 infections. They cited new information about potential staff shortages and the Omicron variant. JetBlue followed with a letter a day later.
After the fall last summer and fall, airlines were under pressure from both passengers and lawmakers to offer a smooth holiday season. Including carriers
Sometimes struggling to maintain the buffer needed to recover quickly from storms or other disruptions, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of flights.
Is one of the airlines facing serious problems in recent weeks. But almost no airline was completely affected.
Alison Aspond, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, wrote to frequent travelers on January 5, “This is one of the most difficult operating conditions we have faced, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
Airlines are not alone Faces shortcomings The Omigron variant is torn down by employees. Public transport services Degraded in New York and other cities. Retailers, bars and restaurants should close temporarily or reduce the time. School closures Teachers are at the highest point of the academic year because they are sick.
Airlines operate under strict safety rules that provide little assistance but can cancel flights when staff is low in the right places. For example, pilots are not always trained to fly different types of aircraft. The regulations dictate how much employees should retire between shifts. And personnel such as flight attendants and mechanics can only safely carry out extra work.
William Humphrey, 35, hopes to return with his family to Neb, Omaha on New Year’s Day. Due to the weather, United canceled his flight and rescheduled him for January 2. Instead he withdrew the money and switched to the quicker route. With Delta, but that flight was also canceled, as were his two other Delta flights on Monday.
Dr. Humphrey, Burlington, Vt. A resident doctor who works at, was already concerned about having coverage in his narrow arm office. On Tuesday, when he missed a flight from Omaha to Detroit due to a flight to Burlington, he instead booked a flight to Albany, NY, rented a car and drove the rest of the way for three hours. Travel.
“It seems to be getting more and more confusing,” he said.
Airlines are preparing for difficulties that will last at least a few more weeks.
Alaska Air Group Inc.
Omicron said on Thursday it would reduce Alaska Airlines’ departures by 10% by the end of January, citing unprecedented sick calls from employees and the need to find continuing realism and a way to lead Covid-19 in our business. Our world. “
“It will provide the flexibility and capability needed to reset,” the airline said in a statement.
Southwest said it was offering pay incentives until Jan. 25, including double pay for employees who work in extra shifts, such as flight attendants, customer-service representatives and mechanics. The Southwest canceled more than 2,500 flights this week, including more than 500 flights on Friday – 17% of the flights scheduled for that day, making sick calls to Omigron difficult to recover from severe weather such as severe snowstorms. Washington, DC, earlier this week.
The airline spokesman said the Southwest is focused on stabilizing its operations in the wake of the winter storms, while maintaining adequate staffing when the Govt-19 cases increase.
Carriers generally maintain high staffing levels as a buffer against bad weather and other unforeseen circumstances – when the demand is high and staff calls are elevated even in the best of circumstances – said Jeff Murray, partner at Oliver Consulting. Wyman. Airlines are screaming for more staff, regional carriers are suffering from a shortage of pilots and key carriers are struggling with training locksmiths, he said.
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“There’s not a lot of relaxation in the system,” Mr. Murray said. “The only alternative for airlines is to further reduce the holiday schedule. In the booking stages they were looking at, it would have been very difficult to do so.
At United, the number of sick pilots, including those with Covit-19, waiting for test results and those suffering from other illnesses, rose from about 500 just before Christmas to about 900 this week. A spokesman for the union representing United pilots said the number of pilots with active Govt-19 infections had nearly doubled during that period.
Airlines rush to raise wages for pilots seeking extra travel Beyond 31 midnight negotiators created an incentive agreement that offered three times the pay for certain trips. United have not reduced the 10-day isolation period for pilots and flight attendants affected by Govt disease.
With airlines still canceling flights, there will be some relief from the regular travel slump following the winter holidays. The airline tends to operate fewer flights in January than at the end of December. Airports screened 1.5 million passengers on Thursday, according to the Traffic Safety Administration.
Mr. Jet Blue. Hayes said, “I think we’ll start to see more people coming back to work than we call.” “I think it will allow for a much quicker recovery from mid-January.”
Stephen Council contributed to this article.
Write to Alison Cider at [email protected]
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