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Flight cancellations give holiday plans to thousands of

NEW YORK (AP) – Airlines continued to cancel hundreds of flights Saturday because of staffing issues related to COVID-19, disrupting holiday celebrations for one of those moments. busiest travel of the year.

FlightAware, a flight tracking website, recorded nearly 1,000 canceled flights entering, leaving or inside the United States on Saturday, up from 690 flights canceled on Friday. More than 250 other flights were canceled for Sunday. FlightAware did not say why the flights were cancelled.

Delta, United and JetBlue all said on Friday that the omicron variant was causing staffing issues leading to flight cancellations. United spokesman Maddie King said staffing shortages were still causing flight cancellations and it was unclear when normal operations would resume. “This was unexpected,” she says of omicron’s impact on HR. Delta and JetBlue did not respond to questions on Saturday.

According to FlightAware, the three airlines canceled more than 10% of their scheduled Saturday flights. American Airlines also canceled more than 90 flights on Saturday, about 3% of its schedule, according to FlightAware. American spokesman Derek Walls said the cancellations stemmed from “COVID-related sick calls”. European and Australian airlines have also canceled flights over the holiday season because of staffing issues related to COVID-19.

For travelers, that means time away from loved ones, chaos at the airport and the stress of spending hours in line and on the phone trying to rebook a flight. Peter Bockman, a retired actor, and his daughter Malaika, a university student, are expected to be in Senegal on Saturday to celebrate with loved ones they haven’t seen in a decade. But their Friday 7:30 p.m. flight from New York to Dakar was cancelled, something they only found out on arrival at the airport. They were there until 2am trying to rebook a flight.

“Nobody organizes, tries to sort things out,” he said, blaming Delta for the lack of customer service. “Nobody explained anything. Not even, “Oh, we’re so sorry, here’s what we can do to help you.”

Their new flight, Monday night, had a stopover in Paris, and they were worried there would be problems with that flight. They missed an extended family gathering scheduled for Saturday.

FlightAware data shows airlines have removed more than 6,000 flights globally on Friday, Saturday and Sunday combined as of Saturday night, with nearly a third of flights affected to, to or within the United States. Chinese airlines had the most flight cancellations, and Chinese airports topped FlightAware’s list of the most canceled airports. Not sure why. China imposes strict pandemic control measures, including frequent lockdowns, and the government instituted one on Xi’an, a city of 13 million, earlier this week.

Air China, China Eastern and Lion Air, an Indonesian airline with many canceled flights, did not respond to emails on Saturday.

Flight delays and cancellations related to staffing shortages have been a regular issue for the US airline industry this year. Airlines encouraged workers to quit in 2020, when the air travel industry collapsed and have cut staff this year as tourism activity recovers.

To ease staffing shortages, countries including Spain and the UK have reduced COVID-19 quarantine periods by allowing people to return to work sooner after testing positive or exposure to the virus.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian is among those who have called on the Biden administration to take similar steps or risk further disruption to air travel. On Thursday, the United States shortened its COVID-19 isolation rule for healthcare workers only.

https://kdvr.com/news/flight-cancellations-snarl-holiday-plans-for-thousands/ Flight cancellations give holiday plans to thousands of

JACLYN DIAZ

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