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British Carriers Face Staff Shortages After Dropping Face Masks

After two carriers in the United Kingdom made face coverings optional aboard flights, they now report experiencing staffing shortages due to illness.
Even though international travel is opening, and airlines are increasing their trans-continental schedules, a group of British carriers say call-outs due to illness are on the rise.


CBS News reports airlines who have made face coverings optional for all passengers are now reporting more cancelled flights due to personnel issues.


With Masks Down, Correlation Suggests Coronavirus Infections Rising

Data collected by CBS News from aviation analytics provider Cirium shows British carriers were forced to cancel more flights once the face covering rules were dropped. For example: discount airline EasyJet cancelled 5% of their flights – 202 of 3,517 – between March 28 and April 3, 2022. During the same time in 2019, the airline reported zero cancellations.


At flag carrier British Airways, 16% of flights leaving the United Kingdom – 393 of 2,405 – were cancelled. The carrier announced they would make face coverings optional on March 16, 2022, but quickly turned around based on logistical issues.


Both airlines acknowledged that new COVID-19 cases were partially to blame for the incidents. A spokesperson for EasyJet told CBS News the spike in cancellations was due in part to “higher than usual staff sickness level,” while a British Airways spokesperson said they would reduce the number of flights through May 2022 “while managing the continuing impact of COVID.”


Doctors say that if a similar move were introduced in the United States, it could create even more problems in an industry slowly starting to recover. Without face covering mandates, some worry that flyers would be more hesitant to purchase airfare over fear of contracting a novel Coronavirus infection.


“If there are no masks, that actually makes people more worried about taking the trip,” Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, epidemiologist and health economist at the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health, told CBS News. “It might make more people stay home and bite the airlines.”


Airlines based in the United States have not been immune to the COVID effect in their operations. In January 2022, United Airlines was forced to cancel flights due to a spike in infections, while Alaska Airlines cut a portion of their schedule over staff illness.


Correlation Comes as America Debates Dropping Face Coverings

The new correlation between cancellations and COVID-19 infections is discovered as federal administrators debate the future of mandatory face coverings aboard flights to and within the United States. As it stands today, the Transportation Security Administration has extended the national mask mandate through April 18, 2022, with no indication on whether or not it could extend once again.


Feature image courtesy: Mark König on Unsplash

masmadrid May 1, 2022

What post hoc ergo propter hoc nonsense.

the810 April 23, 2022

You must be joking. The same issue affects airlines that require masks and yet it's somehow meant to be related to masks. Come on.

Full Score April 13, 2022

What a stupid, unbelievably biased headline. Twisting a non-report to fit a particular narrative, just in time to try and influence the April 18 (soon to be!) extended deadline.

gnaget April 13, 2022

Feigl-Ding is a nitwit, as his name suggests. I avoid flying unless absolutely necessary due to facemasks. The bloody things don't work.

EqualOpp April 13, 2022

CBS News...another MSM outlet dominated by a certain group of people. GROUPthink.