British Airways staff ‘cancel shifts’ over fears of Indian Covid variant

Airline bosses axe overnight stays and adopt flexible rota for cabin crew travelling to India
British Airways bosses have been forced to step in after staff reportedly cancelled shift over fear of a new coronavirus variant. AFP.

British Airways staff are reportedly failing to show up for flights to India over fears of a variant fuelling the wave of coronavirus in the country.

The airline put an end to overnight stays and will allow flexible rosters in a bid to stop cabin crew no-shows, British tabloid the Sun on Sunday reported.

The newspaper said airline bosses wrote to frontline staff asking them to present any concerns they have over their working arrangements.

“If you do not feel comfortable operating these flights then please complete a form and you will be removed,” the letter said.

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority, and we follow and comply with all international regulations,” the airline told The National.

India is on the British government's travel red list, meaning people arriving in the UK from there must quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel.

Earlier this month, British officials designated B.1.617 as a 'variant of concern' after a cluster of cases were discovered in England.

Scientists advising the UK government believe the strain could be up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant discovered last year.

The strain, which was first detected in India last October, is thought to be driving the devastating wave of coronavirus currently sweeping the subcontinent.

On Monday, India reported 281,386 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 4,106. The World Health Organisation said the strain had been detected in 44 countries.

Updated: May 17, 2021 01:19 PM

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