Nearly 3,000 United employees currently positive for Covid-19
January 12, 2022
United Airlines has disclosed that approximately 3,000 of its US employees presently have Covid-19, adding that none of its vaccinated employees who have recently tested positive have been hospitalised. Nearly one-third of United's workforce at Newark Liberty called in sick in a single day recently, chief executive Scott Kirby told employees in an 11 January memo detailing the effects of the Omicron variant on the Chicago-based carrier's operations. Kirby and United president Brett Hart told the airline's US employees on 6 August that they would be required to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination records to a company site or face possible termination. By 22 September, more than 97% of United's US-based workforce had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. "In dealing with Covid, zero is the word that matters – zero deaths and zero hospitalizations for vaccinated employees," Kirby writes in the 11 January memo to employees. "And while I know that some people still disagree with our policy, United is proving that requiring the vaccine is the right thing to do because it saves lives." Kirby notes that the hospitalisation rate among United employees has been 100 times lower than the general population in the USA during the period following the commencement of United's vaccination policy. "Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average per week was dying from Covid. But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero Covid-related deaths among our vaccinated employees." Omicron-driven staff shortages coupled with severe winter weather have led US carriers to cancel thousands of flights in December and early January, and United has been no exception. The carrier's daily flight cancellations since 22 December peaked at 862 on 1 January, Cirium data shows. United has cancelled an average of 418 flights per day from 7 to 11 January. Kirby addresses the operational disruptions in his memo to employees: "While we go to great lengths to avoid cancelling flights, we worked to get ahead of the impact by acting early to cancel flights when necessary and notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport – we're also reducing our near-term schedules to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers. As a result, we’ve been able to get a high percentage of our customers on other flights and close to their original arrival time."

Airbus rejects Qatar Airways A350 compensation claims 'in total'
January 11, 2022
Airbus has acknowledged receipt of Qatar Airways' claims before a UK court regarding premature surface deterioration on some A350s. But the European airframer denies the claims "in total" and argues "the issues do not give any valid basis" for Qatar Airways to seek compensation and to refuse delivery of on-order aircraft. Citing legal documents filed before the High Court's technology and construction division in London, Reuters reported on 6 January that Qatar Airways was seeking $618 million in contractual compensation from Airbus over the grounding of A350s, plus $4 million for each day the aircraft remained out of service. In December, Qatar Airways said it had grounded 21 aircraft. Data shows the carrier's fleet includes 34 A350-900s and 19 -1000s. It has a further 23 A350-1000s on order. Qatar Airways and Airbus have been embroiled in a bitter argument about the surface deterioration issue, which, the carrier says, prompted Qatar's regulator to ground aircraft. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has said it became aware of the issue in late 2020 and does not view the degradation as an airworthiness issue. It was reported in October that Finnair and Lufthansa were among A350 operators that had additionally been affected by premature surface deterioration. Finnair said at the time it was working with Airbus to address the issue, while Lufthansa declined to comment. Airbus says it "rejects Qatar Airways' ongoing and public mischaracterisation of the nature of these issues and of their impact on the A350 aircraft's continuous airworthiness". It adds: "We stand ready to defend our position and uphold our aircraft's reputation, the satisfaction of our customers, and international protocols on safety matters." The airframer says it had been "actively involved in discussions" with Qatar Airways for several months to resolve the dispute. The carrier initiated legal action in December. Airbus insists: "We have identified the root cause of the issues and proper means of repair. We have worked with EASA since the beginning and we continue to do so. The airworthiness of the aircraft is not affected and the issues do not give any valid basis for the grounding of aircraft or the payment of financial compensation nor justify Qatar Airways' refusal to take delivery of further A350 aircraft." Qatar Airways has declined to provide comment on the case.

Airbus reaches 611 deliveries in 2021
January 11, 2022
Airbus delivered 611 commercial aircraft in 2021 – 45 more than it had handed to customers in the previous year. The European airframer increased output of its A320 and A220 families, while production of its A330 and A350 long-haul lines slightly declined. Deliveries included the last production A380 to Emirates in December.
Airbus says it gross order intake doubled to 771 new sales versus 2020. Net order intake stood at 507 sales. The A320neo family received 661 gross new orders, while 64 gross commitments were received for the A220. Widebody gross orders stood at 30 A330s and 16 A350s. Orders for the latter type included 11 commitments for the newly launched A350 Freighter. Chief executive Guillaume states that the order and delivery results represent "focus and resilience" of the airframer's employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders, and are a signal of "confidence in the sustainable growth of air travel post-Covid". He adds: "While uncertainties remain, we are on track to lift production through 2022 to meet our customers’ requirements." Airbus will publish its 2021 financial results on 17 February.


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