NEW YORK (AP) – Hundreds of flights had been canceled Wednesday as the omicron variant of the coronavirus continued to wreak havoc for both passengers and airlines, which are struggling to find staff due to aircrew, pilots, flight attendants and ground personnel. become infected or exposed to infected people.
By noon, more than 850 flights had been canceled and that number was on the rise, according to data from the flight-monitoring site FlightAware. There were nearly 1,300 cancellations of flights departing, entering, or circulating in the United States on Tuesday, and about 1,500 on Monday.
Cancellations began to increase the day before Christmas, a dizzying time for airlines.
Delta, United and JetBlue indicated that the omicron variant caused enough personnel problems to cancel flights.
With 195, SkyWest was the US carrier with the most cancellations, followed by United with 158 and Delta with 103. Skywest, a Utah-based regional airline, has suffered a high level of cancellations after extreme weather affected several of its central airports. , but reports the same personnel issues due to COVID-19.
Over the weekend, the northwest coast was hit by cold and heavy snowfall. Of airports in the United States, Seattle-Tacoma had the highest percentage of inbound and outbound flights canceled on Wednesday, according to FlightAware.
Ómicron has escalated already serious airline staffing problems, reducing the workforce in 2020 when air travel collapsed, but then increasing demand as vaccination rates rose and millions of people felt confident to fly this year. .
That could pose a problem for hundreds of thousands of people if cancellations keep pace with the current weekend. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates that the Monday following the New Year will be one of the busiest days of the holiday season.
According to TSA review data, the number of people flying this holiday season far exceeded last year, before COVID-19 vaccines were available, but is still below 2019.