In a single day over the holidays, nearly one in three United Airlines employees called in sick at Newark Liberty International Airport, a major hub for the airline, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
The revelation, which came in a memo to staff from the airline’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, helps explain why U.S. airlines have had to cancel more than 27,000 flights, or about 8 percent of all scheduled trips, over two weeks starting the day before Christmas, according to FlightAware, a data tracking service. Employees calling in sick and storms that delivered strong winds, rains and in some cases record snowfall at airports nationwide wreaked havoc on United and other companies and stranded many travelers.
Overall, about 3,000 United Airlines employees — more than 4 percent of its work force — have recently tested positive for the coronavirus, Mr. Kirby said in his memo. The vast majority are not working, and United is cutting its flight schedule to manage the shortage.