COVID holiday travel: Hundreds of flights canceled today due to elevated omicrons stressing airline workforce

NEW YORK – As pre-pandemic-grade crowds hit airports over the holiday season, nearly 1,000 flights to, from, or inside the United States were canceled on Christmas Day due to the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

Delta Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and American Airlines canceled a combined 773 flights on Saturday. Four airlines have canceled nearly 400 flights on Sunday so far, according to flight tracking website Flight knowledge.

Delta Airlines Canceled 310 flights on Christmas Day and 131 flights canceled on Sunday.

Saturday’s cancellation comes after United, Delta and JetBlue canceled 454 Christmas Eve flights.

Delta Air Lines canceled 173 flights over Christmas Eve. The airline said “the flight cancellation was due to a combination of issues, including, but not limited to, potential severe weather in some areas and the impact of omicron variation.”

Delta said in a statement Friday to ABC News: “Delta’s teams have exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and replacing aircraft and crews to make the flights possible.” scheduled flight – before canceling about 90 flights on Friday. “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta’s people are working hard to get them where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible on a flight possible. next use.”

And it’s not just Delta that is feeling the variation’s impact on the crew.

United canceled 240 flights on Christmas Day and 95 flights scheduled for Sunday. It canceled 201 flights on Christmas Eve.

“This week’s spike in omicron cases has had a direct impact on our fleet and those running our operations,” United said in a statement on Friday. “As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying affected customers in advance of their arrival at the airport.”

“We regret the disruption and are working hard to re-register as many people as possible and get them on the road for the holidays,” the airline added.

JetBlue canceled 126 flights on Christmas Day due to COVID issues. So far, the airline has canceled 110 flights on Sunday.

JetBlue said in a statement on Friday: “Like many other businesses and organizations, we have seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron. “We have entered the holiday season with the highest staffing levels we have had since the start of the pandemic and are using every available resource to meet our staffing needs. Despite our best efforts. At best, we’ve had to cancel some flights, and the potential for additional flight cancellations and other delays is still possible as we see the Omicron community grow.”

Alaska Airlines has had to pay extra for its healthy employees, who can work extra shifts this coming Christmas weekend.

The airline said it had to cancel 10 Christmas Eve flights as some of its employees were placed in quarantine after it was reported that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

American Airlines canceled 97 flights on Christmas Day.

“Our operations are going smoothly, and unfortunately, a number of COVID-related sick calls have forced us to make the difficult decision to cancel some of the flights scheduled for today. “, a representative for American Airlines said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday. “We proactively notified affected customers yesterday and are working to get them rebooked quickly. We never want to disappoint customers and apologize for any disruptions.” any part of their vacation travel plans.”

Airlines for America, the lobbying group on behalf of all major US airlines, is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten the quarantine period for fully vaccinated individuals. suffice it to say that an increase in omicrons can create a “significant” disruption.

Nick Calio, CEO of A4A, said in a letter Thursday to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, “An increase in omicrons could exacerbate staffing shortages and create significant disruptions tell our workforce and operations”.

Calio proposes that the quarantine period be shortened to five days from symptom onset for sudden infections.

“In turn, those individuals will be able to end isolation with an appropriate testing protocol,” Calio wrote.

The letter comes after Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways, both A4A members, also requested shorter quarantine periods for fully vaccinated individuals.

The ABC-owned broadcaster contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 ABC News Internet Ventures. COVID holiday travel: Hundreds of flights canceled today due to elevated omicrons stressing airline workforce

Dais Johnston

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