JetBlue offers flight attendants $1,000 attendance bonuses for spring travel push

A jetBlue Airways plane takes off from Newark Liberty Airport on September 30, 2018, as seen from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

JetBlue Airways is offering flight attendants $1,000 bonuses if they don’t call in from work from Friday through the end of May, as the carrier tries to ensure adequate staffing during a surge in demand for trips, according to a message from the company.

Flight attendants will also receive $100 bonuses for handling open trips, said the post, which was shared with staff on Friday and seen by CNBC. Part-time flight attendants would receive $500 for meeting attendance goals.

JetBlue’s latest incentive shows it’s willing to pay extra crew to avoid potentially more costly flight disruptions as travelers return in droves after two years of the Covid pandemic.

Staff shortages have crippled airlines over the past year, particularly during Covid spikes, such as the widespread omicron cases that sidelined crews over the end-of-year holidays. JetBlue, United, American and others have turned to bonuses or even triple pay to make up for staffing shortages.

“Spring rewards programs come at a time when every flight makes a difference as hours are tight and staffing levels aren’t where they need to be,” said Ed Baklor, customer service and programs manager. JetBlue, in the memo.

Baklor last month urged flight attendants not to turn down assignments.

JetBlue did not immediately comment, but Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty told CNBC on Wednesday that JetBlue will “continue to moderate capacity as needed” as the airline industry struggles. struggling with staff shortages and high fuel prices.

Incentive package begins days after JetBlue made surprise $3.6 billion cash bid to buy discount carrier Spirit Airlines, throwing Spirit’s $2.9 billion deal into question to be combined with another very low cost airline, Frontier Airlines.

On Thursday night, Spirit said it would accept JetBlue’s offer, but said its merger deal was still in place with Frontier.

JetBlue executives told investors this week that the deal would allow it to grow quickly and better compete with the four biggest U.S. carriers: Delta, United, Southwest and American. Frontier said a JetBlue-Spirit combination would result in higher fares for consumers.

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