Flight cancellations due to workers getting infected with the omicron variant of Covid-19 continued to be a huge problem over the New Year’s weekend. Over 3,800 global flights with 1,625 of those being domestic flights were canceled on New Year’s Eve. That was followed by a New Year’s Day where 4.514 total flights and 2,405 domestic flights were canceled, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Many of those cancellations are due to airlines lacking the proper crew because of people calling in sick due to testing positive for Covid-19. Even vaccinated pilots and crew members must quarantine for five days and then produce a negative test result even for asymptomatic cases.
What Is United Airlines Doing?
United has reached a deal with its pilots’ union, CNBC reported. Pilots will get three-and-half times their regular rate if they take on open trips between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3 and triple pay for picking up flights between Jan. 4 and Jan. 29.
“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.”
United has also increased pay for its flight attendants, although it has not made those rates public.
There are federal laws regarding how many hours pilots can work in one day. Those rules vary based on how many pilots are on board, according to Chron.com.
The FAA defines flight time as the period during which the plane is under power and capable of movement. This includes not only the actual flight time, but also tasks such as taxiing, deicing and waiting time if the engines are on. If the pilot’s first flight of the day begins between 5 a.m. and 7:59 p.m., the maximum flight time limitation is nine hours if there is only one pilot on the flight. If the first flight begins at any other time, the maximum flight time is eight hours. If there are three pilots on the flight, the limit can be extended to 13 hours, and four pilots increase the limit to 17 hours.
A pilot must rest for 10 hours between flights and no pilot can fly more than 60 hours in a week. Pilots may also not be working more than 290 hours in a 28-day period with only 100 of those allowed to be actual flight hours.
United canceled 221 flights or 11% of its schedule on New Year’s Eve and 153 flights (7% of its schedule) on New Year’s Day.