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Tags: Airlines | Christmas | Cancellations

Flight Cancellations Drag on as Airlines Short-staffed

Flight Cancellations Drag on as Airlines Short-staffed
(AP)

Saturday, 25 December 2021 11:40 AM

U.S. airlines canceled more than 900 flights on Saturday, the second straight day of massive cancellations as surging COVID-19 infections have sidelined some pilots and other crew members, upending plans for tens of thousands of holiday travelers over the Christmas weekend.

A total of 937 Christmas Day flights, including domestic flights and those into or out of the country, were canceled, up from 690 on Christmas Eve, according to a running tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. Nearly 1,500 flights were delayed.

The Christmas holidays are typically a peak time for air travel, but the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has led to a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections, forcing airlines to cancel flights as pilots and crew need to be quarantined.

United Airlines canceled 230 flights while American Airlines called off 90 mainline flights, representatives for the companies said in separate statements.

"The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," United spokesperson Maddie King said. She added that the cancellations made up a small portion of United's 4,000 average daily flights during the holiday season.

"We are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays," she said.

Winter weather and Omicron forced Delta Air Lines to scrub 344 mainline and connection flights on Saturday, of its approximately 3,000 scheduled flights, "after exhausting all options and resources to prevent those cancellations," a spokesperson for the company said, adding that the negative impact on operations were likely to persist on Sunday.

"Delta expects more than 300 of its flights will be canceled on Sunday, Dec. 26," the spokesperson said. "Delta people are working together around the clock to reroute and substitute aircraft and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible."

Globally, FlightAware data showed that nearly 2,650 flights were called off on Saturday and 6,233 others were delayed, as of 3.27 p.m. EST (2027 GMT).

Among the most impacted U.S. airports were Atlanta's Hartford-Jackson International, New Jersey's Newark Liberty International, Los Angeles International and New York's JFK International.

Not all airlines were affected equally. A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said there were no issues to report with the carrier's flights on Saturday.

The Omicron variant was first detected in November and now accounts for nearly three-quarters of U.S. cases and as many as 90% in some areas, such as the Eastern Seaboard.

The average number of new U.S. coronavirus cases has risen 45% to 179,000 per day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally.

While recent research suggests Omicron produces milder illness and a lower rate of hospitalizations than previous variants of COVID-19, health officials have maintained a cautious note about the outlook.

Ahead of the Christmas holiday, Americans scrambled for COVID-19 tests and many went ahead with their travel plans.

U.S. officials have said that people who are fully vaccinated should feel comfortable proceeding with holiday travel.

© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


US
Airlines continued to cancel hundreds of flights Saturday as staffing issues tied to COVID-19 disrupted holiday celebrations during one of the busiest travel times of the year.FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, noted 888 flights entering, leaving or inside the U.S....
Airlines, Christmas, Cancellations
505
2021-40-25
Saturday, 25 December 2021 11:40 AM
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