Airways cancel lots of of Christmas Eve flights as Covid hits crews

A traveler wearing a protective mask waits to board a United Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport on October 15, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Airlines canceled hundreds of Christmas Eve flights as Covid hit crews.

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled worldwide, including more than 500 US flights. United Airlines More than 170 major scheduled flights were canceled on Friday, roughly 9% of the flight schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

“This week’s nationwide surge in Omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operations,” United said in a statement Thursday. “As a result, we unfortunately had to cancel some flights and inform affected customers in advance before they come to the airport.”

The disruption comes after airline executives said they await some of the busiest days since the pandemic began over the year-end holidays, despite the spike in Covid infections fueled by the Omicron variant. The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 2.2 million people Thursday, up from 846,500 but fewer than 2.5 million who passed TSA checkpoints two years prior to the pandemic.

United said it is trying to rebook as many travelers as possible. She announced most of the cancellations the day before.

U.S. airline executives this week urged officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Relax quarantine guidelines for fully vaccinated people who tested positive for Covid, to five days from the current 10, citing potential staff shortages and flight disruptions. the CDC has relaxed its guidelines for health workers on Thursday.

Delta canceled more than 140 flights, or 7% of its Friday flight schedule, due to bad weather in Salt Lake City and Seattle, two of its hubs, and the impact of the rapidly expanding Omicron variant. Delta canceled more than 100 Saturday flights while United canceled about 70. JetBlue Airways More than 70 flights were canceled on Friday, about 7% of daily flight operations.

“Delta teams exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and swapping planes and crews to cover scheduled flights – before canceling around 90 flights for Friday,” the airline said in a statement. “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their vacation travel plans. Delta employees are working hard to get them to their destination on the next available flight as quickly and safely as possible.”

More than 90% of Delta employees and more than 96% of United’s U.S. employees are vaccinated, the airlines said.

Delta and United’s flight disruptions are far fewer than those of the Bulk cancellations Some airline customers faced this summer and fall as airlines, including American and southwest grappling with staff shortages and bad weather.

Both airlines offered additional remuneration of the staff work Major Vacation Travel and attendance goals. Southwest only had one cancellation on Friday and American had 11, according to FlightAware.