Omicron: more than 4,500 international flights canceled for Christmas

Lhe Omicron variant has the world under wraps for the holiday season. In addition to people isolated because they tested positive just before Christmas Eve, thousands of people were stranded because they were unable to travel. In question ? Planes nailed to the ground. More than 4,500 flights were canceled by airlines, while thousands more were delayed around the world over Christmas weekend.

According to the Flightaware website, at 7:20 a.m. GMT on Saturday there were at least 2,000 flight cancellations, of which 700 were trips related to the United States, whether international or internal, and more than 1,500 delays. . Friday, about 2,400 cancellations and nearly 11,000 delays were identified according to the same source, which already has more than 600 cancellations scheduled for Sunday.

Pilots, flight attendants and other staff members had to be quarantined after being exposed to Covid, which forced Lufthansa, Delta and United Airlines to cancel flights.

Pilots and flight attendants positive for Covid or contact cases

According to Flightaware, United Airlines had to cancel around 200 flights on Friday and Saturday, or 10% of those that were scheduled. « The peak of Omicron cases across the country this week has had a direct impact on our crews and the people who manage our operations, » said the American company, which said it was working to find solutions for passengers. affected.

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Delta Air Lines also canceled 260 flights on Saturday, and 170 the day before, again according to Flightaware, citing both Omicron and, occasionally, adverse weather conditions. “The Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources” before coming to these cancellations, argues the airline. More than ten Alaska Airlines flights, whose employees said they were « potentially exposed to the virus » and had to self-isolate in quarantine, have also been canceled.

Chinese companies most affected

Chinese airlines were responsible for the most cancellations: China Eastern cut around 480 flights, or more than 20% of its flight plan, while Air China canceled 15% of its scheduled departures. These cancellations disrupt the desire to resume travel this year for the holidays, after a Christmas 2020 hit hard by the pandemic. According to estimates by the American Automobile Association, more than 109 million Americans were expected to leave their immediate area by plane, train or car between December 23 and January 2, an increase of 34% from the year last.

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Fortunately, these disruptions did not have any consequences for Santa’s tour, which the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) has scrupulously followed for 63 years. « It’s going very well so far, Santa Claus has distributed two billion gifts and he is currently over Pakistan », told AFP Major General Eric Kenny, who commands the Norad for the Canada region, Friday around 6 p.m. GMT.

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