Omicron Is Forcing Airlines To Cancel Christmas Flights & Thousands Of People Are Grounded
The variant is hitting flight crews in several countries around the world.
Multiple airlines worldwide are cancelling flights right before Christmas, leaving a bunch of travellers in a sticky situation just as the holiday season kicks in.
Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines, Jetstar and Qantas are among the many airlines that have cancelled dozens of flights this week, with many of them citing a shortage in crew members due to Omicron.
Lufthansa, the German-based airline, announced on December 24 that it was cancelling a bunch of their flights over the holidays, including long haul flights to Houston, Boston and Washington, because of a rise in sick leave among pilots, the Associated Press reports.
"We planned a very large buffer for the vacation period. But this was not sufficient due to the high rate of people calling in sick," the airline said in a statement.
Although Lufthansa didn't specifically mention Omicron, other airlines have blamed the variant for similar issues that have forced them to cancel flights.
Yup, @SpiritAirlines & @FlyFrontier did it TWICE today. Canceled flights for over 400 people in Vegas to Cali because \u201cthey didn't have staff\u201d. Ruined Christmaspic.twitter.com/eoPOTXAgoW— Vincent Sager (@Vincent Sager) 1640320908
Delta Airlines and United Airlines have had to cancel almost 300 flights on Christmas Eve alone because of the Omicron variant, which affected a number of crew members.
"The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," said United in a statement. "As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport."
Delta is finding itself in a similar dilemma, with bad weather adding to the problem.
"Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources -- including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying — before cancelling around 90 flights for Friday," said Delta in a statement to ABC News. "We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight."
Airlines down under are also trying to cope with a sudden shortage of crew members.
Australia-based Qantas Airlines and its subsidiary Jetstar have had to cancel dozens of flights on Christmas Eve.
According to 7 News, many of the Jetstar cancellations were due to staff members undergoing testing and isolation after close contacts with infected people.
December 23 was expected to be the busiest travel day of the year according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
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