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.

American Airways, Spirit Airways cancel a whole bunch of flights

American Airlines aircraft stand at the passenger gates at Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) near Dallas, Texas.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Airlines Passengers have faced hundreds of cancellations and delays since Sunday as the airline struggles to recover from disruption caused by severe thunderstorms that swept through its Dallas / Fort Worth international hub.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, more than 270 flights – or 9% of America’s main flight schedule – had been canceled by Tuesday morning. At least 120 of the cancellations were due to a lack of flight crew, according to an internal list reviewed by CNBC.

The Americans canceled around 850 flights between the Sunday when the thunderstorm hit and Monday. Almost 2,000 were delayed. Around 80 American flights were diverted to other airports on Sunday.

Travelers complained on social media of difficulty reaching customer service agents and extensive delays.

“Mother Nature is not playing well and many flights in and out of DFW are delayed or canceled,” American Airlines tweeted to a customer on Sunday.

Before hurricanes and snowstorms occur, airlines will often cancel thousands of flights to avoid passengers and crews getting stranded at airports. Thunderstorms can be disruptive to passengers and airlines alike, as they often result in rolling delays because they are less predictable.

In addition, airlines are struggling to find staff to cope with the surge in travel demand urging Employees in the pandemic took buyouts or leave of absence in the past year to reduce labor costs.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 2.24 million people on Sunday, most since February 28, 2020.

An American Airlines spokeswoman said Monday the weather and air traffic restrictions caused the delays at DFW.

American had cut about 1% of its schedule for the first half of July to deal with weather and other disruptions, as well as staffing issues.

But the carrier has restored more capacity than some of its competitors like United Airlines and Delta Airlines.

“And we expect to fly a larger domestic network with DFW in August this year than in August 2019,” said American President Robert Isom in a quarterly call last month.

More capacity leaves little room for error in the event of malfunctions, analysts told CNBC.

According to the Ministry of Transport, airlines are not required to provide hotel accommodation or meal vouchers to travelers whose flights have been canceled.

“Passengers understand that airlines don’t control the weather, but what makes a good airline is how they treat passengers when the chips are down,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel industry consultancy Atmosphere Research Group and a former airline manager .

More than 1,100 Southwest Airlines Flights, nearly a third of the Dallas-based airline’s schedule, were postponed Monday while 44 were canceled. The airline said Sunday’s thunderstorms triggered Monday’s cancellations.

Spirit Airlines“Problems continued on Tuesday. According to FlightAware, 38% of the flight schedule or 258 flights have been canceled, in addition to about 500 flights between Sunday and Monday.

A spokesman for the low-cost airline said Monday the disruptions were due to “operational challenges” caused by the weather. Airlines will often cancel flights to get the crews in place rather than continuing to delay flights.

“We are working around the clock to get back on track after a few travel interruptions at the weekend due to a number of operational challenges,” the airline said in a statement. “We understand how frustrating it is for our guests when plans change unexpectedly, and we are working to find solutions. We ask guests to actively monitor their emails and flight status before heading to the airport.”