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United Cuts Flights After 3,000 Workers Infected with COVID-19

Boeing 737, United Airlines

United Airlines is the latest carrier to reduce their schedule after around 3,000 employees reported positive COVID-19 infections.
United Airlines is the latest carrier to have their schedule affected by personnel issues. 


In an open letter to employees, airline chief executive Scott Kirby announced the current state of the carrier and the reason for the temporary flight reduction.


“United is proving that requiring the vaccine is the right thing to do because it saves lives.”

In the update out of Chicago, the executive started off by thanking the workforce for their efforts despite the Omicron surge across the United States. The mood of the letter quickly turned dour as Kirby announced around 3,000 workers were currently out due to COVID-19 infections.


“Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick,” Kirby wrote in the e-mail. “To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery.”


As a result of the employee illness, the airline head announced two moves because of employee absence due to illness. First, the carrier cancelled numerous flights and reduced near-term schedules “to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers.” Kirby did not announce how many they cancelled to compensate for the lack of human resources.


Second, Kirby once again touted the airline’s commitment to their mandatory vaccine requirement. The Chicago-based carrier was the first of the major U.S. airlines to require employees to get inoculated, and Kirby says the decision resulted in reduced hospitalization rates and saved lives.


“Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average per week was dying from COVID,” Kirby wrote. “But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees – based on United’s prior experience and the nationwide data related to COVID fatalities among the unvaccinated, that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement.


“While I know that some people still disagree with our policy, United is proving that requiring the vaccine is the right thing to do because it saves lives,” Kirby ended his letter.


Although United is taking credit for their proactive approach to vaccines, not all current or former employees agree with the mandate. Earlier in January 2022, a group of airline workers from United and other carriers came together in Florida to protest vaccine requirements.


United Latest Carrier to Trim Schedule Due to Illness

With the move, United is the latest airline to scale back their operations in January. Alaska Airlines announced they would cut their schedule by 10% and asked flyers to reconsider their travel plans.

ak97 January 13, 2022

United is doing the right thing. We wear masks in the OR everyday to protect surgical patients. It was even before COVID.  Its not a huge sacrifice to save lives. One of my patient's husband died last week after a month in the ICU due to COVID. We want to prevent that from happening.

bongodriver January 12, 2022

This guy is behind the curve.  WHO is backing off on boosters and the concept that vaccines are supposed to prevent illness as was originally promised.  He has a workforce getting sick despite forced vaccinations.  They don't work at all on Omicron and fail after a few months.  What happens when his people fail their certificate physicals?

bongodriver January 12, 2022

Kirby wrote, “... that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement."

8-10 saved?  Publish a list of names.

jcmalcolm January 12, 2022

Wait all those employees you threatened and forced to get a shot got sick anyway? How is it possible? Now what? Require endless boosters under threat of losing your job again?
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