Covid looms over holiday season as over 11,500 flights cancelled worldwide


Travelers queue up at the American Airlines check-in
Image Source : AP

Travelers queue up at the American Airlines check-in counter at Denver International Airport, Sunday.

Highlights

  • More than 11500 flights have been cancelled worldwide as Covid cases surge
  • Increase in cases have ruined holiday season plans for thousands of people
  • UK, US are witnessing record daily surge amid Omicron outbreak

Over 11,500 flights have been canceled worldwide since Friday ruining holiday season plans for thousands of people. Out of these, a total of 1,033 flights within, into and out of the US were canceled and 2,982 faced delays as of 1:20 pm East Time, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware, as the recent Omicron-fueled Covid-19 surge has resulted in crew shortages and disrupted the operations of some airlines.

The cancellations on Monday included 264 by SkyWest, 141 by Alaska Airlines, 93 by United and 84 by American. A combined 1,700 flights had been canceled on Christmas eve and Christmas day, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The cancellations come at the busiest time of year for air travel,” and major US travel hubs were “among the hardest hit,” reported ABC.

“More than 2,500 flights have been canceled on Monday as Covid-19 cases surge across the globe. Of the more than 2,500 canceled flights, 1,000 were within, into or out of the US,” reported CNN. Globally, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas eve, Christmas and the day after Christmas.

SkyWest had the highest number of cancellations among US carriers, with more than 250. The Utah-based airline cited both weather conditions at hubs and “increased Covid cases and quarantines among crew members” for the cancellations, while apologising for the inconvenience and working to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

“We’re working as quickly as possible to get all our affected guests re-booked on other flights, while operating safely,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement.

“Reservations are experiencing extremely long hold times of up to 11 hours.”

“We apologise to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,” Delta said in a statement.

“Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

“We’ve got to make sure employees don’t feel pressured to come to work when they’ve been exposed to Covid-19 or they think they may have the symptoms,” said Captain Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association.

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Bad weather and Omicron’s impact on staffing influenced Delta, United, American and JetBlue flight disruptions over the holiday weekend. Travelers are advised to check flight status directly with their airline, reported USA Today.

Meanwhile, Delta and JetBlue have called on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten the quarantine period for vaccinated individuals to five days, to ease crew shortages. Many airlines are also offering bonus payments to employees to cover extra shifts to avoid more cancellations.

The US Department of Transportation requires airlines to offer a refund when they cancel a flight, regardless of the reason or type of ticket purchased. Delays are trickier because while the same rule applies to significant delays, each airline interprets “significant delays” differently.

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