According to FlightAware data, Delta’s 636 cancellations over the holiday weekend led the industry in the U.S.
(UNITES STATES – FlightAware) – Airline flight cancellations in the United States topped 2,800 over the Christmas weekend, disrupting travel during one of the busiest times of the year as a wave of cases of Omicron-variant COVID caused airline staffing shortages.
A winter storm in the northwestern U.S. added to the problems on Sunday, with 20 percent of flights canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Aaccording to data tracker FlightAware.com at 6 pm New York time, JetBlue Airways and Alaska Air Group suspended more than 10 percent of their flights. In addition, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines canceled at least 12 percent of their schedules a day earlier.
Cancellations in the U.S. on Christmas Day alone totaled more than 900.
The airline disruptions added to signs of economic disruption caused by the omicron variant, whose rapid spread is wreaking havoc despite early indications suggesting it causes less severe disease than other COVID variants. In addition, health care systems are being squeezed by staffing shortages.
The disruptions could extend into the New Year’s holiday weekend. Still, U.S. air travel could face less stress if the federal government shortens the quarantine required for industry workers who test positive for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reduced the isolation time for vaccinated health care workers who contract the virus on Thursday.
Airlines for America, the trade association representing U.S. airlines, wrote to the CDC asking that the 10-day quarantine period for fully vaccinated individuals be reduced to “no more than five days.”
Delta’s 636 cancellations over the holiday weekend led the industry in the U.S., according to FlightAware data through Sunday night, followed by United with 551. JetBlue canceled at least 318 flights over the weekend, according to FlightAware.
The holidays are one of the busiest travel periods of the year. The Transportation Security Administration estimated that Dec. 22 and 23 found the most active pre-Christmas travel dates nationally and locally, and Jan. 2 and 3 are the busiest for post-Christmas travel.
Messages of consumer complaints piled up on airline Twitter accounts as passengers bemoaned disruptions to their planes for the holiday weekend. Travelers reported flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage on social media.
Worldwide, the number of canceled flights was more than 6 thousand trips between Friday and Sunday. Xi’an Xianyang International Airport recorded the highest number of cancellations. The government punished local officials for failing to curb an outbreak that led to the most significant shutdown since the emergence of covid in Wuhan. According to FlightAware, nearly a third of flights departing from the airport were canceled Friday and Saturday.
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