Flight cancellations begin to disrupt Brazil’s air travel market

The Covid and flu epidemics among employees have forced airlines to cancel several flights due to staff shortages. As of Monday morning alone, 52 flights had been canceled, 19 of which were international routes.

Of the three airlines that dominate the domestic air travel market, Latam and Azul reported a total of 134 cancellations – corresponding to 1% of Latam flights and 10% of Azul trips through January 16. So far, competitor Gol says the recent spike in Covid has not affected its schedule.

Leading union representing airline workers says sick leave cases among Azul employees have increased 400 percent in January. To deal with the disruption, the company proposed a collective agreement allowing employees to opt for fewer days off in exchange for bonuses.

Strongly impacted by the Covid crisis in 2020 and 2021, the air transport sector is now facing disruptions during one of the biggest tourist seasons in the country. Brazilians tend to go on summer vacation in December and January.

Due to the exposure of crew members, unions are demanding that these professionals be included in priority groups for Covid-19 booster vaccines.

The rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant has led to thousands of thefts being canceled around the world. Through FlightAware, a data tracking service, a total of 2,868 connections were interrupted on Monday alone.