3,000 United employees are COVID positive, airline trims flights

United CEO Scott Kirby emphasized that there have been no hospitalizations among its vaccinated staff

United Airlines is trimming its near-term flight schedule in order to ensure it has adequate staffing and resources available to take care of customers as the omicron variant continues to put a strain on operations. 


According to a memo to staff from United CEO Scott Kirby reviewed by FOX Business, roughly 3,000 United employees are currently positive for COVID-19. 

"In one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick," Kirby noted. "To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery."

United Airlines employees work at ticket counters in Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, on Oct. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File / AP Newsroom)

Despite the surge in sick calls, Kirby emphasized that none of the airline's vaccinated employees are currently hospitalized and that the hospitalization rate among its staff has been 100 times lower than the general U.S. population since its vaccination policy went into effect. 

"Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from COVID," Kirby explained. "But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees – based on United’s prior experience and the nationwide data related to COVID fatalities among the unvaccinated, that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement."

As of Sept. 30, United had a total of 85,300 employees. 


A United spokesperson declined to disclose specifics on how many flights will be cut. In addition to the cuts, United has been acting early to cancel flights and notify customers in advance of them coming to the airport. 

"As a result, we’ve been able to get a high percentage of our customers on other flights and close to their original arrival time," Kirby added.

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United's move follows similar cuts from Jet Blue and Alaska Airlines announced at the end of December. As of Tuesday morning, United has canceled 149 flights and delayed 42, according to flight tracking website FlightAware

Overall, more than 2,800 flights have been canceled and more than 3,000 have been delayed as of the time of publication Tuesday. Over 500 of those delayed and over 600 of those canceled were expected to travel within, into or out of the United States.