Finnair cuts flights as Covid sick leave soars

Finnair cuts flights as Covid sick leave soars

Finnair cuts flights as Covid sick leave soars
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HELSINKI, Jan 12, 2022 (AFP) – Finnish national airline Finnair will cancel 20 percent of flights in February after a spike in Covid-related staff absences, the company said on Wednesday.

“The Omicron coronavirus variant and flu season has led to a significant increase of sick leave among staff at Finnair and its partners,” the company said in a statement.

“We aim to meet these resourcing challenges through the cancellation of flights, to avoid last-minute changes and better manage our customers’ expectations.”

The cancelled flights will mainly be to destinations with multiple connections a day, such as Stockholm, Oslo, Paris and Rome, in order to allow customers to take an alternative flight on the same day, Finnair said.

The launch of a new long-haul route to Dallas will now be postponed until March 27, with other routes to Asia also reduced.

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On Wednesday, United Airlines also announced reductions in its flight schedule due to staff shortages, while the surge of the Omicron variant saw tens of thousands of cancelled flights worldwide over the Christmas period.

Finnair has been hit particularly hard by the drop-off in long-haul traffic during the pandemic, with flights between Helsinki and Asia a key part of the group’s growth strategy.

The airline, which is majority owned by the Finnish state, announced in 2020 that it would cut 1,000 jobs, or about 15 percent of its workforce.

Like many countries in Western Europe, Finland has seen record Covid infection rates in recent weeks.

The country of 5.5 million saw over 8,000 new cases since Tuesday bringing total infections to just under 350,000.

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