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US carrier United Airlines is reducing its near-term flight schedule as the airline grapples with the impact on staffing of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

“In one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick,” United CEO Scott Kirby wrote on Tuesday in a memo to workers. “To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery.”

About 3,000 of its workers are positive for Covid-19, the CEO said. United is among multiple US carriers whacked by a surge in Omicron infections nationwide, which resulted in tens of thousands of flight cancellations across the industry during the holiday travel period.

The company will trim its flight schedule in January and February to adjust to staffing levels, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday. The airline declined to discuss specific capacity figures for the schedule reductions.

Last week, Alaska Air announced a 10% capacity cut for January to help address Covid-19-related staffing shortages.

Kirby also touted the company’s mandatory vaccination policy and said no vaccinated employees are in hospital due to the virus. United had 85,300 employees as of September 30.

The shares fell less than 1% in New York. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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