After having to cancel or delay hundreds to thousands of flights, United Airlines recently revealed that about 4% of its staff has contracted COVID-19. This is about 3,000 members of their staff. However, the company also explained that while many of their crew has become infected with the virus, nobody has died or been hospitalized.
This latest report comes after the airline company was forced to cancel or delay a mass amount of flights. Delays and cancellations began before Christmas Eve and continued on into the new year, as United Airlines (as well as many other airlines located in the United States and around the world) struggled to continue with planned flights as many of their employees became infected with the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
United Airlines is still dealing with these problems, as they still have crew that is infected — or becoming infected. According to new data, the airline company canceled about 149 flights on Tuesday of this week, about 7% of its flights in total for the day.
United Airlines was the first airline company in the United States to mandate vaccines for all of its employees. Some decided not to be vaccinated, which led to about 200 out of 67,000 employees being fired. However, the United Airlines CEO has expressed that their decision to mandate vaccines has helped save their employees’ lives. According to the CEO, before they mandated vaccines, about one employee per week was dying from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the CEO explains that none of their 3,000 members who are currently battling the virus are hospitalized. Nobody has also recently died from the virus. However, the highly contagious Omicron variant has disrupted business for the airline company, leading to many delays and cancellations around the country.
Certain areas in the country have also become hotspots and greatly impacted how United hubs work. For example, about one-third of United workers at a Newark airport called out in one day this week because of the COVID-19 virus.
The CDC has changed its guidelines regarding how people should isolate if they’ve been infected or exposed to the virus, however. According to the CDC, people only need to isolate for five days, rather than 10 days, before returning to work — if they have no symptoms. Already, large businesses have decided to change their guidelines to reflect the CDC’s recommendation, allowing workers to return to work quicker and perhaps help businesses continue. Walmart is one such example, as they recently announced that they were halving paid leave for workers from two weeks to one.
Airline companies will likely follow suit to allow employees to return to work after exposure, especially Delta Air Lines asked the CDC last month to soften these quarantine guidelines. This may end up helping United Airlines, as well as all the other airline companies in the country, conduct business. This could also help with cancellations and delays. However, it might not be enough to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, especially if people continue to spread the highly contagious virus.