Posted by on January 11, 2022 11:07 am
Categories: News Washington Examiner

United canceling flights as 3,000 employees call in sick with COVID-19

A United Airlines jetliner lifts off from a runway at Denver International Airport as travellers deal with the effects of the new coronavirus Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

United canceling flights as 3,000 employees call in sick with COVID-19

Zachary Halaschak January 11, 10:45 AMJanuary 11, 10:45 AM

United Airlines has about 3,000 workers out sick with COVID-19 and has been forced to cancel flights as a result of the absences.

United CEO Scott Kirby told the company Tuesday in an internal memo obtained by the Washington Examiner that while there has been a deluge of sick employees, none of those who are vaccinated have been hospitalized or died from the virus, which is likely the omicron strain. The total number out sick accounts for about 4% of the airline’s total workforce.

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Kirby didn’t say exactly how many flights have been or are being canceled but said that United is “reducing our near-term schedules to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers.”

“We have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID. Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick. To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery,” he said.


United was one of the first major companies to institute a stringent vaccination policy for its employees. After the company introduced the mandate, some 200 employees were fired for not complying (out of 67,000). Additionally, six pilots were terminated and 80 were placed on unpaid leave for their lack of compliance.

Prior to United’s vaccine mandate, “Tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from COVID,” Kirby said. “But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees.”

Other airlines were plagued with delays and cancellations during the holiday season. Travelers with Delta, JetBlue, and others faced long delays and canceled flights as they tried to travel home after Christmas.


Cancellations and delays have been a recurring problem since Christmas Eve, which had 2,000 flights canceled worldwide and more than 450 within the United States. Dec. 28 saw 2,500 flights get canceled, with another 2,400 flights canceled on Dec. 29.

While a United spokesperson did not provide the number of canceled flights when contacted by the Washington Examiner, tracking website Flight Aware showed that about 7% of the airline’s flights were canceled as of Tuesday morning.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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