Thousands of people lost their Christmas flights following more than 5,000 cancellations as staff and crew called out sick during the Omicron surge.
1. Omicron makes a toll
These figures were shown by FlightAware, revealing that globally airlines have canceled 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve Day, Christmas and the day after Christmas. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States. FlightAware explained that pilots, air hostesses and other staff members had to be quarantined after being exposed to Covid-19, forcing companies such as Lufthansa, Delta and United Airlines to cancel flights.
2. US flights cancelled
On December 23, United Airlines (UAL) said it had to “cancel some flights” in light of the Omicron variant surge. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation”, said a United memo reported by CNN.
UAL cancelled 201 flights on December 24, representing 10% of its total schedule, and 238 flights on December 25, representing 12% of its schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. However, the North American airline said it notified passengers on time.”We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays”, UAL stated.
In the United States, over 109 million people had been scheduled to leave their immediate regions by plane, train or car between 23 December and 2 January — a 34% increase compared to last year, according to the American Automobile Association.
3. International flights
The airline China Eastern has canceled 474 flights, or 22% of its operation. As for Air China, it canceled about 190 flights, or 15% of its schedule. China, which maintains a strict policy of zero Covid-19 within its territory and keeps its borders almost completely closed, has recently recorded its first two cases of the Omicron variant. Air India, Shenzhen Airlines, Lion Air and Wings Air all canceled dozens of flights as well after staff and crew fell sick.