Finnair Becomes The Latest Omicron Staff Sickness Casualty

As airlines worldwide continue to grapple with the problem of employees calling in sick due to Omicron, Finnish national flag carrier Finnair has become the latest casualty. In a statement issued today, January 12th, Finnair says it is seeing a significant rise in the number of employees calling in sick.

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Finnair is cancelling 20% of its flights during February. Photo: Finnair

To cope with the mounting staff shortages, the airline says it is reducing its February flight schedule by around 20%. Finnair says that by doing this and offering its passengers other flight options, it will be better placed to handle what it expects will be an increase in staff shortages.

Finnair is sorry for the disruption of flights

When speaking in the company statement about reducing Finnair flights by around 20% during February, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair Ole Orvér said:

“Staff sick leave is now significantly impacting Finnair and airports in Finland as well as throughout the world. We aim to meet these resourcing challenges through the cancellation of flights to avoid last-minute changes and better manage our customers’ expectations. This will give customers more time to prepare for flight schedule changes and adjust their travel plans if needed.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to our customers. However, reducing our traffic program is necessary to better offer a smooth travel experience in the face of the expected resource challenges.”

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Long-haul and short-haul flights will be affected

According to the statement, most of the missing services will be routes with multiple daily flights. By doing this, Finnair can offer customers an alternative flight on the same day. Some examples of where Finnair operates numerous daily flights from Helsinki are:

  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)
  • Oslo Airport (OSL)
  • Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup (CPH)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO)
Finnair’s new flight to Dallas will start a month later than planned. Photo: Finnair

Some changes will also occur to Finnair’s long-haul flights, with Finnair’s new Dallas flights being pushed back from February 27, 2022, until March 27, 2022. The start of flights to Nagoya and added frequencies to Osaka will not occur until the summer. Finnair will also reduce its frequencies to Singapore with two flights a week and Hong Kong with three flights a week.

We are going to have to live with COVID-19

With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus running rampant in Finland, some local authorities are giving up on testing and tracking. The decision to suspend large-scale testing was made because the number of people becoming infected made it virtually impossible to track and trace the spread of the virus.

Instead of being tested, the local authorities are calling on people with mild symptoms to temporarily stay home so that they can concentrate on helping older people recover from the virus. So widespread is the Omicron strain in Finland that nine leading Finnish infection specialists published an open letter to the government on Monday asking it to not to close schools and return to remote learning.

Finnair A320 in Lapland
Most of February’s canceled flights were on routes with multiple daily services.

The current feeling amongst the experts is that quarantines and school closures are no longer an effective way to control the pandemic. The consensus is beginning to suggest that we will never be able to achieve herd immunity and that we are just going to have to live with the virus.

Because of Omicron’s milder symptoms, experts now believe that the virus no longer poses a significant public health danger to vaccinated persons and others who have recovered after being infected.

What do you think about Finnair cutting its February flights by 20%? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.