More than 6,000 flights worldwide were canceled over the long Christmas weekend, and thousands more were delayed, tracking site reported today, as the highly contagious variant Omicron disrupts millions of vacationers.
According to Flightaware.com, more than 2,800 flights around the world have been canceled on Christmas Day, with more than 8,500 delays as of 5 a.m.
On Friday, there were about 2,400 cancellations and 11,000 delays, while on Sunday the cancellations were around 1,500 with more than 1,400 delays also reported.
Pilots, flight attendants and other staff have come into contact with patients or have been forced to quarantine after exposure to Covid, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and many other carriers with short staff to cancel flights during one of the year’s peak travel periods. .
“Helpunited flight canceled again. I want to go home for Christmas,” an angry Vermont traveler tweeted to the airline early yesterday.
Flightaware data showed United canceled about 200 flights on Friday and nearly 250 on Saturday – about 10% of those that were scheduled.
The scramble to reroute pilots and planes and reassign staff was underway, but Omicron’s rush upended the business.
« The surge in Omicron cases nationwide this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation, » United said in a statement on Friday.
« As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and notify affected customers in advance of their arrival at the airport, » the airline said.
Similarly, Delta canceled 310 flights yesterday and has already canceled more than 100 more today, saying it has « exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and replacing aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flights ».
« We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans, » the company said.
The cancellations added to the pandemic frustration of many people eager to be reunited with their families during the festive season, after Christmas was severely curtailed last year.
China Airlines had the most cancellations, with China Eastern canceling more than 1,000 flights, and more than 20% of its flight plan, on Friday and Saturday, and Air China also halting about 20% of its scheduled flights during this period.
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