Thousands of flights canceled on New Year’s Day
Former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza discusses ongoing flight cancellations due to COVID-19 and the…
More than 2,000 flights are canceled on New Year’s Day as bad weather and the omicron variant of the coronavirus continue to upend airline operations during the holiday travel season.
According to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, 2,311 flights entering, leaving or within the U.S. were canceled as of 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday. Another 424 flights were delayed.
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Southwest has the most cancelations of the major U.S. carriers with 457 scrapped flights as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Meanwhile, nearly 190 American Airlines flights were canceled in addition to 180 Delta and 142 United flights. JetBlue had 118 canceled flights and Spirit had 91.
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The disruptions have continued throughout the holiday week, stranding holiday travelers at airports across the nation.
In fact, there were nearly 1,000 canceled flights entering, leaving or inside the U.S. on Christmas alone, up from 690 flights scrapped on Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware data.
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Major carriers such as Delta, United and JetBlue have all blamed the omicron variant for causing staffing problems that ultimately lead to flight cancellations.
“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” a United Airlines spokesperson told FOX Business. “As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport.”
The carrier said it’s “working hard to rebook as many people as possible.”
Meanwhile, American Airlines said “the number of COVID-related sick calls is consistent with what we have seen over the past few days.”
However, the airline noted that a winter storm in Chicago accounted for “a significant number of our mainline cancellations” on New Year’s Day.
“It’s affecting both flights in and out of Chicago and other flight sequences for our crew,” the airline said.
Flight delays and cancellations tied to staffing shortages have been a regular problem for the U.S. airline industry over the past year.
However, the latest disruptions come amid a time when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) projected that travel volume will near pre-pandemic levels.
On Sunday, the TSA screened 2,049,604 people at airport checkpoints across the country, down slightly from 2,392,331 in 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.