JetBlue Airways is considering cutting flights through January 13, 2022, by roughly 1,280 due to a surge in Omicron cases across crew members. The rise in infections could result in temporary staff shortages.
The news was announced on December 30, 2021. In a letter seen by Reuters, the American low-cost carrier confirmed that it is currently considering making the cuts to its flight schedule as crew members continue to fall sick from the new COVID-19 variant.
According to a JetBlue Airways spokesperson, the carrier predicts that the number of registered positive cases across its workforce could grow “for the next week or two”.
“This means there is a high likelihood of additional cancellations until case counts start to come down,” the spokesperson told media.
Meanwhile, the United States recorded a spike in the number of infections, reaching a total of 258,312 cases over the past seven days. The rise in Omicron infections, which is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, has already disrupted thousands of flights across the country.
Despite growing numbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation period for asymptomatic people who test positive for the COVID-19 virus. The move was made on December 28, 2021, after growing pressure from various US airlines was taken into consideration.
American trade association Airlines for America, which represents Southwest, American, United, Delta, and other major airlines, asked the CDC to reduce the quarantine period, arguing that the current quarantine guidelines may lead to staff shortages. The CDC reduced the recommended quarantine period from 10 to five days but recommended the strict use of masks for an additional five days. Alternatively, if a five-day quarantine is not feasible, an exposed person must always wear a well-fitting mask when around others for 10 days after exposure.
Following the CDC update, vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to the virus do not need to quarantine but are required to wear a mask when with others for 10 days.