Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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Omicron-induced staff shortages and snow hobble U.S. air travel

U.S. airlines canceled nearly 1,000 flights on Monday (December 27) after grounding thousands of flights over the Christmas holiday weekend, hobbled by staff shortages from COVID-19 infections and bad weather in parts of the country.

Monday’s air travel woes capped a glum holiday weekend for thousands of passengers who were stranded in airports and waiting in hours-long customer service lines to re-book flights, often for days after originally planned. 

Rapidly rising COVID-19 infections from the Omicron variant have forced airlines to cancel flights as pilots and cabin crew fall sick and need to quarantine. 

The average number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen 55% to over 205,000 per day over the last seven days, according to a Reuters tally. 

A total 969 flights into, within or out of the United States were canceled by midday on Monday, according to the flight tracking website flightaware.com.

In statements emailed to Reuters on Monday, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines said their cancellations were due to weather. In a statement over the weekend, Delta Airlines attributed cancellations to weather and the Omicron variant. JetBlue said crew shortages were behind its dozens of flight cancellations on Monday. 

(Production: Greg Savoy, Mana Rabiee)


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