JetBlue is to start recalling flight attendants who agreed to take leaves of absence because of an anticipated employee overage based on travel demand predictions. Instead, like many airlines, jetBlue is seeing bookings increase rapidly as Coronavirus case numbers drop and a mass vaccination campaign reaches more and more Americans.
“As we enter a new phase of the pandemic with case counts going down and vaccination rates going up, our focus is now getting ready to safely ramp up our operations for a busy summer season and our Inflight Crewmembers are critical to our recovery opportunity,” an internal memo sighted by CNBC told flight attendants.
JetBlue managed to avoid involuntary furloughs through the pandemic even when government payroll support dried up by convincing enough of its employees to take buyouts, early retirement and unpaid leaves of absence.
A new group of flight attendants is to start a two month leave of absence starting in April but those crew members have now been told that they can expect to return to work for federally-mandated recurrent training around April 22.
On both Friday and Saturday, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 1.3 million travelers at airports across the United States – the highest number of travelers since the start of the pandemic.
The rise has been attributed to leisure travelers who are choosing to ignore official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that continues to urge Americans to avoid all but the most essential of travel. The CDC has drawn criticism for refusing to relax its guidance for fully vaccinated travelers.
At an airline conference earlier this week, the chief executives of American, Delta and United Airlines all reported positive booking trends for the months ahead and into the summer.
“Our last three weeks have been the best three weeks since the pandemic hit, and each week has been better than the one prior,” American’s chief executive Doug Parker said Monday.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that rising ticket sales no longer felt like it was a false start ahead of yet another wave of infections and lockdowns that plagued the industry late last year and into early 2021.
Robin Hayes, chief executive of jetBlue said the industry could now be confident that it would turn cash positive in the short to medium term as bookings continue to increase. Hayes said its largely domestic and short-haul international network had helped the airline weather the Corona crisis better than some of its rivals.
The New York-based airline is, however, widely expected to launch direct flights to London Heathrow later this year, setting off a fare war with the likes of British Airways.
Photo Credit: Roman Tiraspolsky / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.