Following a tumultuous holiday travel week marked by major cancellations and delays, some airlines are resorting to temporary pay raises to motivate employees and address labor shortages.
On Friday, both United Airlines and Spirit Airlines announced wage hikes for select employees, including a threefold boost in compensation for United pilots who fly extra flights through January 29 and a doubling of pay for Spirit flight attendants working shifts through January 4.
According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, the regulations take effect as the airline sector tries to cover personnel gaps caused by the spread of the Omicron coronavirus strain, which has resulted in more than 20,000 flight cancellations since Christmas Eve.
In recent months, there has been a considerable increase in verbal and physical assaults against airline employees, prompting the incentives. T
According to available statistics through December 21, 2021, the Federal Aviation Association recorded a total of 5,779 events involving rowdy passengers, the majority of which were conflicts regarding mask regulations.
In a memo distributed on Friday, Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president for flight operations, informed pilots of the triple pay opportunity.
The incentive was devised in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association, according to Quigley’s letter, and will apply to workers who take unstaffed trips through January 29.
“Thank you all for your hard work and professionalism during this holiday season,” Quigley wrote in the memo. “We continue to do everything we can to take care of our customers during this challenging time and today I’m happy to share a significant update: we worked with the ALPA to provide additional compensation for pilots.”
Employees at Spirit Airlines learnt about salary incentives on Friday through their union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which announced that all flight attendants would be eligible for double pay until January 4.
“All flight attendants, regardless of how you have obtained your pairing, will be receiving 200% pay for any pairing that touches Dec. 28 through Jan. 4,” the AFA-CWA said in a statement.