United Triples Pilot Pay to Avoid More Covid Flight Cancellations

6 January 2022

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Due to the mass spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, United Airlines is paying its pilots extra until the end of January to pick up flights due to the staff shortage.

United and the Air Line Pilots Association pilot union agreed to a higher pay to cover open trips due to sick calls, said Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations. In a note to CNBC, the airline agreed to pay three-and-a-half times a pilot’s pay for flying open trips between 30 December – 3 January, and triple pay to pilots taking up trips from 4-29 January.

“Due to the rapid spread of the COVID Omicron variant, we are currently seeing record levels of pilot sick calls,” the pilots’ union wrote to its members, according to CNBC. “The impact on the operation is clear and United has experienced a correspondingly large number of cancellations over the past week.”

On New Year’s Eve, United cancelled more than 200 flights. And they aren’t the only ones. Flight-tracking website FlightAware reported that more than 3,500 global flights were cancelled, with 1,500 of those being U.S. domestic. Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and SkyWest cited cancellations were due to a combination of bad weather and an increase in sick calls from crews that tested positive.

In addition to increased pilot pay, United flight attendants will also receive additional pay to pick up trips.

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