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Variant Omicron | Flight cancellations are on the rise

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(New York) More than 5,600 flights were canceled by airlines as thousands more were delayed around the world over Christmas weekend, with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 disrupting travel during the holidays.

According to the Flightaware website, at 8:40 a.m. on Saturday there were nearly 2,500 flight cancellations, of which just over 850 were trips related to the United States, whether international or internal.

More than 3,500 flights were also delayed across the world.

Friday, about 2,400 cancellations and nearly 11,000 delays had been identified according to the same source, which already has nearly 800 cancellations scheduled for Sunday.

Pilots, flight attendants and other staff have had to be quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19, which has forced Lufthansa, Delta and United Airlines to cancel flights.


PHOTO DAVID ZALUBOWSKI, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Denver airport arrivals board shows two flights were canceled on December 24.

According to Flightaware, United Airlines had to cancel around 439 flights on Friday and Saturday, or about 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.

Delta Air Lines also canceled 280 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, argued the airline.


PHOTO GOD-NALIO CHERY, REUTERS

Passengers wait in line at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City following the announcement of several canceled flights by Delta Airlines on December 24.

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 540 flights, more than a quarter of its flight plan, while Air China canceled 264 flights, also near the quarter of his 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 – up 34% from the year last.

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 for the moment, Santa Claus has distributed two billion gifts and he is currently above Pakistan,” Major General Eric Kenny, who commands NORAD for the AFP, told AFP. Canada region, Friday around 6 p.m. GMT.



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