Over 6,000 flights grounded globally over Christmas weekend amid Omicron surge

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 26, 2021, 08:41 AM(IST)

Omicron surge halts flight operations globally Photograph:( Reuters )

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According to flight-tracking website, FlightAware, Sunday cancellations have already topped 1,100

Omicron continues to play a spoilsport in the holiday plans for millions, as more than 6,000 flights have been cancelled across the globe over the Christmas weekend, because of staffing issues linked to the virus spread.

According to a flight-tracking website, FlightAware, nearly 2,800 flights were scrapped around the globe on Christmas day (December 25), including more than 970 originating from or headed to US airports, with over 8,000 delays as of 0130 GMT.

On Friday, 2,400 flights were cancelled and 11,000 delays, while Sunday cancellations have already topped 1,100.

Combining Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 6,300 flights have been scrapped so far, according to FlightAware.

Pilots, flight attendants and other employees have been calling in sick or having to quarantine after exposure to Covid, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and many other short-staffed carriers to cancel flights during one of the year’s busiest travel periods.

Also read | As Omicron spreads rapidly, France records over 100,000 cases in 24 hours

According to FlightAware, the three airlines—Delta, United and JetBlue—cancelled more than 10 per cent of their scheduled flights on Saturday.

American Airlines also cancelled more than 90 flights Saturday, about 3 per cent of its schedule, according to FlightAware.

Watch | Nearly 6,000 flights cancelled globally, as Omicron hits Christmas weekend travel

Delta, United and JetBlue had all said on Friday that the omicron variant was causing staffing problems leading to flight cancellations.

Also read | Pope Francis prays for COVID-19 pandemic’s end, healthcare for all on Christmas

United spokesperson Maddie King said staffing shortages were still causing cancellations and it was unclear when normal operations would return.

European and Australian airlines have also cancelled holiday-season flights because of staffing problems related to COVID-19.

Chinese airlines made up many of the cancelled flights, with China Eastern scrapping more than 1,000 flights, over 20 per cent of its flight plan, on Friday and Saturday and Air China also grounding about 20 per cent of its scheduled departures over the period.

(With inputs from agencies)

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