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New York — New York-based JetBlue will cancel flights starting Thursday through mid-January due to “expected” COVID callouts. The airline made the announcement on Thursday.
The airline said that the past week has been extremely difficult to operate flights due to staffing issues. Multiple major airlines have canceled flights due to callouts relating to COVID, but the move by JetBlue is different and should raise a lot of questions after their recent lobbying action.
Rather than managing the volume based on staff they actually have, they have just decided to cancel the flights whether the staff is available or not. So even if the COVID callouts ended next week, these flights are no longer going to operate leaving many employees without work.
JetBlue joined other airlines in the past week to argue to reduce the COVID isolation time to 5 days to prevent labor shortages. The CDC did change the rules to 5 days, but that did not stop JetBlue from “proactively” canceling the flights.
So why advocate to change the policy if you were going to cancel services anyway? If Omicron is not as severe as the other COVID waves and the employee must only be out of work for 5 days, what is the reason for the canceled flights?
The cancellations amount to approximately 100 flights per day, which would be just under 10% of its daily flight volumes.
In the previous week’s cancellations, other airlines joined JetBlue in canceling around 10% of their daily flights stranding travelers across the country. Airlines continue to say that the canceled flights are due to COVID, but is that the only reason?
JetBlue issued a COVID vaccine mandate in November, requiring employees to be vaccinated or to risk termination from their job. Could it be that JetBlue is using the Omicron wave as a means to help cover their pending terminations?
The most likely answer is that JetBlue is using the cancellations to help its bottom line. The organization has struggled financially throughout the pandemic, with the companies stock having lost approximately a third of its value since the pandemic began.
While other airlines have started to recover from the forced recession, JetBlue has not. Perhaps they will start looking for a government bailout next.
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