Thousands of flights have been canceled around the world due to the fast-spreading Omicron type of Coronavirus, which is stopping employees from working and driving travelers to reconsider their plans.
Omicron Causes Flight Disruptions Across The United States
Travel disruptions caused by the highly infectious Omicron form throughout the world have caused thousands of flights to be canceled or delayed over the holiday season.
Weather and worker outbreaks of Coronavirus continued to disrupt schedules across the United States, but airlines have also canceled a number of recent flights ahead of time, allowing them to adjust their schedules during traditionally slow travel periods without surprising customers.
According to FlightAware, a data tracking website, almost five thousand flights were canceled from Friday to Sunday, with the daily number of cancellations steadily decreasing over that time.
Southwest Airlines, more than any other carrier, has canceled over a thousand flights. United Airlines and SkyWest Airlines, which operates flights for numerous major carriers, each canceled over five hundred flights.
After postponing a large number of flights during the holidays, JetBlue Airways said that it would eliminate around thirteen hundred flights in the first half of January.
Last Monday, Alaska announced that it would cancel around one out of every ten flights scheduled for the month in order to gain “the flexibility and capacity needed to reset.”
Many carriers have begun giving extra money to employees who are ordinarily not scheduled to work in order to deal with staffing shortages. Southwest Airlines, for example, announced last week that employees who picked up extra shifts would receive double pay for most of the month.
Employees across the company, including ground crew, flight attendants, customer service representatives, flight schedules, and maintenance technicians, are eligible for these benefits.
According to federal figures, almost sixty-three percent of the country has been fully immunized. Many people who have been vaccinated have gotten booster doses due to concerns about the variation, but recent survey data suggests that they haven’t always convinced the unvaccinated to cover up.
In the early months of the vaccine rollout, mass vaccination facilities were critical, but by the summer, many had closed as they attempt to reach unprotected persons became more targeted.
As surges in inpatient demand clash with staffing shortages caused by Coronavirus infections, health experts think large vaccination sites could help alleviate the pressure on pharmacies and smaller clinics. Thousands more flights have been canceled in recent days as the airline industry tries to shake off its holiday hangover.
Airlines are requesting that the prescribed isolation period for persons with breakthrough Coronavirus infections be shortened, but a flight attendants union is pushing back, stating that leaders should be of the highest priority.
The CDC has shortened the isolated times for healthcare providers in preparation for patients arriving on Thursday. With a negative test, patients with no symptoms can return to work after seven days, and “the period of isolation can be shortened further when there is a staffing shortage,” according to the new guidelines.
Many international airlines have canceled thousands of flights this weekend and beyond due to the spread of omicron and additional travel restrictions. They cited staff illness and low demand for the cancellations.
At a time when omicron’s rapid spread has already interrupted plans for gatherings, driving individuals into quarantine and seclusion, the flood of airline cancellations has left travelers scurrying to save valuable time with family.
The disruptions coincide with one of the busiest travel seasons in recent memory. Since the outbreak, many people have returned to airports for the very first time since they stayed home for the holidays the previous year.