United Airlines offers pilots triple pay to facilitate omicron flight interruptions

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 13, 2019 in Burlingame, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty pictures

United Airlines is offering its pilots triple pay to pick up travel for most of January to help ease a crew shortage driven by the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the Covid-1[ads1]9.

United, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, SkyWest, Alaska Airlines and other airlines have canceled more than 10,000 combined flights since December 23, citing a combination of bad weather and an increase in sick leave from crews that tested positive for Covid.

The disruptions come as what the airline’s executives predicted as the busiest days since the start of the pandemic.

On Friday, airlines canceled nearly 1,500 US flights, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. United canceled more than 200, about 11% of the main line.

United and the pilots’ union, Air Line Pilots Association, reached an agreement on higher wages to cover open trips, said Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of aviation operations on Friday in a staff note, which was seen by CNBC.

Pilots will be offered three and a half times the salary for flying open trips between 30 December and 3 January and a triple salary for pick-up trips between 4 January and 29 January, the memo states.

“Due to the rapid spread of the COVID Omicron variant, we are currently seeing record levels of sick leave from pilots,” the pilot association wrote to its members. – The effect on the operation is clear and United have experienced a correspondingly large number of cancellations in the last week.

United flight attendants are also being paid extra to pick up travel, and other airlines, including JetBlue, American, Southwest and Spirit, have also raised crew crew salaries to avoid disruption to holiday flights.

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