More than 6,000 flights were canceled around the world during the Christmas holiday weekend, and thousands of other flights were postponed, according to the specialized “Flight Aware” website, at a time when An outbreak of the highly contagious corona virus omicron Travel disruptions affect millions.
In the United States, bad weather is expected to double the chaos in airports in the west of the country, although storms will bring snow during the Christmas holidays, especially in the northwestern cities of Seattle and Portland.
And the website “Flightaware.com” reported that about 2,800 flights were canceled Saturday around the world, including more than 970 flights coming from or heading to airports in the United States, and the number of delayed flights exceeded 8,000 flights as of 01:30 GMT.
And at least one airline said it expects more cancellations on Sunday.
Peak travel during the holidays
The Christmas holidays are usually the peak time for air travel but Rapid spread of the Omicron strain It led to a sharp increase in Covid-19 injuries, forcing airlines to cancel flights due to the necessity of quarantined pilots and flight crews.
On Friday, about 2,400 flights were canceled, while it was announced that about 11,000 flights were postponed. The site also recorded the cancellation of more than 900 flights scheduled for Sunday.
Pilots, flight attendants and other staff have requested sick leave or had to go into quarantine after coming into contact with people infected with Covid or becoming infected with the epidemic, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue and a large number of other airlines to fly. Suffering from a shortage of manpower to cancel trips in the period of the year when travel peaks.
“Please help. United flight canceled again. I want to go back to celebrate Christmas,” a Vermont traveler wrote in a tweet to the airline on Saturday.
Staff rushed to redirect pilots and planes and change staff assignments, but the Omicron outbreak caused widespread disruption.
“The rise in the number of Omicron infections nationwide is directly affecting our staff and the people who run our operations,” United said in a statement on Friday.
“As a result, we unfortunately had to cancel some flights and inform affected customers before they came to the airport,” the company added, noting that it was working on finding new bookings for passengers.
Delta also canceled at least 310 flights on Saturday and dozens more on Sunday, saying it had “exhausted all options and resources, including changing the flight path and replacing planes and crews to cover scheduled flights.”
“We apologize to our customers for having to postpone their travel plans during the holiday,” the company said.
The cancellations exacerbated the frustration associated with the pandemic for many Americans who had been hoping to meet family members after travel and Christmas celebrations were drastically curtailed last year.
The largest number of flight cancellation decisions were announced among Chinese airlines, as “China Eastern” announced the cancellation of about 1,000 flights (ie, more than 20% of its scheduled flights), while Air China suspended nearly 20% of its scheduled flights during this period.
Based on the Automobile Association of America estimates, more than 109 million Americans were scheduled to travel by air, train or car between December 23 and January 2, a 34 percent increase from last year.
But the bulk of these plans were before the outbreak of the Omicron mutant, which has become dominant in the United States, where it is currently putting pressure on some hospitals and health care staff.
On Friday, New York State announced 44,431 new cases of the epidemic, which is a new record.
With regard to weather conditions, while unusually warm temperatures are hanging over the eastern states, the US National Weather Service has warned of storms that include extreme frosts and freezing in large parts of the American West.
“Severely cold weather and a wave of moisture from the Pacific Ocean lead to prolonged snowfall on the mountains, in addition to rainfall in coastal areas and valleys, some of which are sometimes heavy,” the authority added in a statement.
An average of two to four feet (61 to 122 centimeters) of snow is expected over the weekend, and accumulation may be greater in some areas such as the northern and central Sierras in California and Oregon, the Met Office said.
The agency noted that travel will be “very difficult, sometimes impossible” from the Sierras to the central Rocky Mountains during the weekend due to snow.