Over the hectic Christmas and New Year travel periods, British Airways is paying cabin employees up to £225 per day in extra wages for working on their rest days.
The airline is dealing with Omicron-related staffing issues and is attempting to encourage crew members who aren’t sick to take on extra trips in order to avoid a wave of cancellations.
On Christmas Eve, the United Kingdom recorded 122,186 new COVID-19 infections, a new high for the country.
Despite a shorter time of isolation for positive cases, the UK faces huge personnel shortages in the coming weeks as millions of people are compelled to lock themselves inside their homes.
British Airways’ problems began last weekend, when the Heathrow-based carrier was unable to locate enough employees to run flights on Saturday morning. On Sunday, the difficulties worsened when baggage handlers and ground staff were also placed in isolation.
Passengers claim they were sent home without their luggage from the airport because no one was available to unload bags from arriving planes. More than 2,000 cases were stacked and awaiting sorting at one time, though some of the issues have since been remedied.
With additional crew members expected to become ill in the coming days, British Airways is paying senior crew members £225 per day in overtime to work on their days off in addition to their regular pay. Overtime compensation for most other cabin crew members might be as high as £150 per day.
In the United States, American Airlines was able to prevent any personnel concerns during the holiday season by implementing an incentive program.
Delta and United Airlines, on the other hand, were forced to cancel more than 200 flights on Christmas Eve due to staffing shortages.
Both airlines recognized that the personnel shortage was mostly caused by the Omicron spike, which is driving up sickness rates.
Similar staffing issues have been reported by Lufthansa and SAS, while Etihad Airways made the contentious decision to place its cabin crew under lockdown for ten days in order to avoid too many more employees from contracting COVID-19.