Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns
The US Airways Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: LCC) announced today that it is eliminating the requirement to submit medical certificates for overseas or international flights. The new policy allows employees to use a private health insurance policy when applicable.
“For employees who have been out of work on a medical leave of absence for even one day, and who have exhausted the appeal process, there is no additional requirement for a medical certificate,” said Scott Kirby, chief financial officer of US Airways. “Employees who have exhausted the appeal process, and employees who are on a medical leave of absence because of a serious or life-altering condition, can continue to use their private health insurance policy for medical benefits.”
Earlier this week, JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) announced that it will stop requiring medical certificates for its international passengers. The change will affect about one-third of JetBlue’s international flight operations and is consistent with a broader airline policy that also includes a new policy to extend medical insurance to new employees.
Airlines with non-stop flights from the US to Canada now may be carrying fewer passengers. Domestic routes from all airlines have fallen this year, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
“Air travelers have made great progress in reducing their travel times by making changes to their lifestyles,” said Peter Tseng, president and CEO of US Airways. “In 2008, US Airways was the world’s leading airline on the basis of domestic and international passengers. As a result, we made it clear to employees that we will continue to focus on the travel trends that are changing the way that our passengers choose to travel, while continuing to provide the quality service that our customers expect.”
US Airways will not eliminate the restriction on travel to Europe as it does for international passengers from Canada.
“As a result of the industry-wide shift, US Airways has had to reduce its international capacity from two days a week to five days a week,” Tseng said. “From our own operations, we’ve had to reduce capacity on