Extreme climate, omicron infections drive hundreds extra U.S. flight cancellations

Airlines canceled more than 2,600 U.S. flights on New Year’s Day as they faced severe weather conditions across the country and an increase in employee Omicron infections, affecting air travel during the year-end vacation.

The problems are not resolved that quickly. By Saturday afternoon, the airlines had already canceled more than 1,000 US flights planned for Sunday. More than 13,700 U.S. flights have been suspended and thousands more delayed since Christmas Eve, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

The travel problems occur during the airlines which are among the busiest days since the pandemic began. Last year, the Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 580 million people, up 79% from 2020 but still a decrease of about 30% from pre-pandemic 2019.

Southwest Airlines had largely escaped some of the serious disruptions affecting the rivals over the holidays, but scrubbed 473 flights on Saturday, 13% of the schedule, according to FlightAware. More than 600 more were delayed. Because of a severe winter storm, the airline stopped flight operations at Chicago airports from 1 p.m. local time.

Southwest has more than 200 daily departures from Chicago Midway International Airport. An airline spokeswoman said flights were suspended because planners expected “the gusty winds and snowdrifts that show us decades of operations at this airport will slow down the airspace, de-icing and reloading of planes.” make it very difficult. “The spokeswoman for Southwest had no staffing problems.

The Federal Aviation Administration has also slowed traffic at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines‘largest hub, due to staffing levels. Earlier this week, the agency warned the disruption would continue.

“Weather and heavy seasonal traffic will likely lead to some travel delays in the coming days,” the agency said on Friday. “Like the rest of the US population, an increased number of FAA employees have tested positive for COVID-19. To ensure safety, the volume of traffic in some facilities could be reduced, which can lead to delays in peak times. “

While the weather caused many of the cancellations on New Year’s Day, airlines have included United Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue Airways canceled hundreds of flights over the holidays, citing omicron infections among the crews for many of the disruptions.

Airlines have increased incentives for pilots and flight attendants to take trips and remove staffing bottlenecks that some executives say could last for several weeks as Covid cases continue to rise.

The Air Line Pilots Association, United Pilots’ Union, negotiated triple pay for fliers picking up open travel for most of January, CNBC reported on Friday. United flight attendants and both cabin crew and pilots spirit and others receive bonuses even during the busy holiday season.

Airlines have tried to cancel flights early so customers don’t get stuck at the airport, overwhelm ticket counters and have to change their plans. JetBlue announced this week that it will be 1,280 flights deleted from the flight schedule by mid-January in order to avoid short-term cancellations, as the crews of Omicron Covid infections are on the sidelines.

American, which operates a major hub out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, canceled 208 flights, or 7% of its operations, on Saturday, FlightAware data showed. Chicago-based United has canceled 158.7% of its main-haul flights. Delta has canceled nearly 200 flights, 9% of its Saturday flight schedule.

Airlines executives said they expect travel demand to rise in 2022 and have prepared to expand their schedules and recruit new employees.

Southwest has surpassed its goal of hiring more than 5,700 employees, including onboarding staff and expanded offerings, Greg Muccio, Southwest’s senior director of talent acquisition, wrote in an employee release Thursday. The airline is aiming for another 8,000 more employees next year.

However, the omicron variant is a new challenge for carriers.

“While we expect a full recovery in 2022, it will be a two-half year,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes in an employee New Years Day memo seen by CNBC. “Our traditional lows, especially in the next few weeks after the holidays and as COVID-19 cases rise, are going to be tough.”

However, Hayes said that JetBlue expects an “exceptionally busy summer and plans to take advantage of this opportunity as we continue to expand our fleet and offer low fares on additional routes.”

Music pageant within the Netherlands results in over 1,000 Covid infections

Members of the public walk at Vondelpark in Amsterdam on a sunny day on March 30, 2021.

EVERT ELZINGA | AFP | Getty Images

A festival in the Netherlands shocked officials after 1,000 coronavirus infections were linked to the event despite requiring an “entry test”.

The Verknipt outdoor festival, which took place in Utrecht at the beginning of July, was attended by 20,000 people over two days. Each participant had to show a QR code stating that they had been vaccinated, had recently had a Covid infection or had a negative Covid test.

The organizers insisted that the event was carefully planned and controlled, but despite this, 1,050 people who attended the festival have since tested positive for Covid, according to the Utrecht Regional Health Authority.

“We can’t say that all these people infected themselves at the festival, it could also be that they got infected on the trip to the festival or the evening before the festival or an after party. re (the cases) are all connected to the festival, but we cannot 100% say that they were infected at the festival, “said Lennart van Trigt, a spokesman for the Utrecht Health Department (GGD).

Nonetheless, he said the number of cases was “pretty staggering” and could increase slightly in the coming days.

The event highlighted problems with the “entry test,” added van Trigt, which allowed people to take Covid tests up to 40 hours before the event, which opened up the possibility of contracting Covid in the meantime.

“We have now found out that this deadline is too long. We should have had 24 hours [period], that would be much better because in 40 hours people can do a lot of things like visit friends and go to bars and clubs. So in a 24-hour period, people can do fewer things and it’s safer, “he said.

Another problem was that people in the Netherlands were able to get a Covid pass for the festival immediately after vaccination, while in reality it takes several weeks for immunity to build up after a Covid vaccination.

“We were a little too happy with the trigger,” said Van Trigt, noting that lessons could be learned from it.

The mayor of Utrecht, Sharon Dijksma, was particularly condemned while attending the ill-fated festival.

The Netherlands has seen a staggering increase in Covid cases in recent weeks, especially after lifting bar and club restrictions in late June and subsequently increasing Covid among younger people.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Health Minister Hugo de Jonge apologized on Monday, saying the government made a “misjudgment” in lifting restrictions too early.

De Jonge also apologized for his “Dansen met Janssen” (“Dancing with Janssen”) campaign, which promoted the unique Janssen Covid vaccine to young people so that they could go to party.

After the government admitted that “the coronavirus infection rate in the Netherlands since the society reopened almost entirely on Jan. Nightclubs and live performances would close again until at least August 13th.

The country’s “R” number now stands at 2.17, which means that any person with Covid-19 is likely to infect at least two other people.

An additional 10,492 cases were reported in the country on Wednesday, more than the average number of daily cases (8,395) over the past seven days. The majority of new cases affect people between the ages of 20 and 29 years.

Fauci says Covid infections are lowering in all 50 states

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director at the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press conference with Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the White House in Washington, USA, on April 13, 2021.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

Dr. White House chief medical officer Anthony Fauci said so on Wednesday Covid-19 Infections are decreasing in every state in the United States

“All 50 states have now seen declines in infection rates,” Fauci said in an interview with Axios, suggesting the widespread declines would make it safer for Americans to resume activities such as indoor dining.

The US reports on average about 31,200 new cases per day in the past weekData compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows an 18% decrease from a week ago. Case numbers have been falling since the country’s last peak about a month ago in mid-April, when the country recorded more than 71,000 cases per day.

Fauci did not provide the length of time over what period these declines in state-level infections have occurred. A CNBC analysis of the Johns Hopkins data shows the average daily caseload in 40 states has decreased by 5% or more over the past week.

The data is cloudy in some places, such as in Alabama Johns Hopkins says has published lagging case numbers in the past few days, making it difficult to interpret the latest trend.

Fauci’s statement suggests that the outbreak is weakening across the country, rather than being more confined to a particular state or region responsible for the decline in numbers.