United Airlines is offering their pilots quite the incentive to pick up trips through January to help ease staff shortages caused by the pandemic.
Pilots would be looking at triple pay if they are willing to fly the extra routes.
Major U.S. airlines around the country have canceled tens of thousands of flights since December 23. On Monday, there were more than 3,000 cancellations. Airlines cite a combination of bad weather and sick call surges from crews who test positive for COVID-19.
CNBC reports United and the pilots’ union – the Air Line Pilots Association – reached an agreement for higher pay to cover open trips.
Pilots will be offered three times their usual pay for picking up trips between January 4 and January 29. The bonus applies to hours beyond minimum monthly flight hours.
“Due to the rapid spread of the COVID Omicron variant, we are currently seeing record levels of pilot sick calls,” the pilots’ union wrote to its members. “The impact on the operation is clear and United has experienced a correspondingly large number of cancellations over the past week.”
United’s flight attendants are also going to get extra pay to pick up trips.
The letter also makes it clear that employees should not come to work if they have any sort of symptoms, despite the financial incentives.
“The bottom line – if you are healthy and able to report to work, please do so. If you are not well and need to call in sick, please take care of yourself and return when able.”
Other airlines – including JetBlue, American, Southwest and Spirit – have employed similar tactics to keep up with demand, but none of them go as far as United.