Passengers returning home for Christmas have been hit by disruption around the world after airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights on Friday, according to a flight tracking website.
The wave of Christmas Eve cancellations came as the rapidly spreading variant of the Omicron coronavirus prevented carriers from staffing their flights.
The website of flight tracking company FlightAware showed that 2,175 flights around the world were deleted on Christmas Eve, a generally busy day with travel. About a quarter of them were in the United States. Another 1,259 flights on Christmas Day were canceled around the world, the website said, amid an increase in Covid infections caused by Omicron.
The bulk of the cancellations came from five companies, with China Eastern canceling 474 trips, while Air China canceled 188. United canceled 177 flights, Air India 160, and Delta canceled 150.
United said: “The national peak of Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operations. As a result, we unfortunately had to cancel some flights and notify affected customers in advance of their arrival at the airport. ”
Meanwhile, Delta said it had “exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and substituting planes and crews to cover scheduled flights – before canceling about 90 flights for Friday.” The airline blamed the cancellations on the impact of the Omicron variant and weather conditions.
In response to the pre-holiday chaos, airlines have called for the relaxation of quarantine rules for vaccinated staff.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian has asked the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 to five days for vaccinated people with major infections . Airlines for America and JetBlue supported the request.
Airlines’ social media feeds were filled with frustrated passengers asking for help after a string of cancellations on Christmas Eve due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
“@Delta really?! Are you canceling my New Year’s Eve flight at 12:30 am ?? I got up at 2 am to go to the airport with my baby and my husband and I only see the cancellation when I am at the airport to check my luggage, ”tweeted a passenger from the airline Friday – one of many similar posts. intended for carriers who have had to cancel flights.