United says Covid-19 spike is hitting air travel -- again

A masked passenger is seen seated on a flight from San Francisco, California to Newark, New Jersey on October 27, 2020. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The spike in Covid-19 cases is starting to hit air travel once again, according to United Airlines.

United warned in a filing Thursday morning that it has seen a drop in bookings and a rise in canceled reservations, which it attributed to increased infection rates across the country.

The airline also may have to trim its schedule even more deeply in the fourth quarter, beyond the planned cut of 55% compared to a year ago.

The number of US Covid-19 cases is rising rapidly, reaching record levels in the last week. There were 170,000 new US Covid-19 infections reported Wednesday, as the number of US deaths crossed the 250,000 mark. Many states are reimposing restrictions on business and social activities.

And although US airlines are expecting their busiest week since March ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, many public health authorities are urging people to limit their travel and exposure to older relatives.

United was the first US airline to cut back its domestic schedule in March when the initial US outbreak first started affecting air travel. Soon, all airlines followed suit with deep cuts to schedules as the amount of air travel plunged.

Other major US airlines did not have an immediate comment on United's filing.

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