Another 1,000 US flights canceled Monday as omicron snarls travel


More than a thousand U.S. flights on Monday have been canceled as the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to cause disruptions and delays nationwide, wreaking havoc on holiday travel plans.

FlightAware's live cancellation and delay statistics have recorded 1,011 canceled flights into, out of or within the U.S. as of Monday afternoon as well as more than 2,400 delays. The company's "Misery Map" currently places the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as being the most "miserable" in the U.S., with the highest volume of canceled or delayed flights.

Globally, the multinational tech company has recorded nearly 7,700 delays and over 2,500 canceled trips. China Eastern Airlines is currently the most affected, with more than 500 canceled or delayed flights on Monday, accounting for nearly a quarter of its scheduled departures.

In the U.S., SkyWest Airlines — headquartered in Utah — has experienced the highest amount of flight disruptions, with 249 cancellations and 234 delays. Alaska Airlines, United, American Airlines and Delta have also been significantly impacted, with all four companies within the top ten of those that are dealing with upset travel plans.

Airlines have said they are struggling with staffing issues as many members of their workforce are calling out of work due to contracting the coronavirus. The U.S. has seen a sharp uptick in cases as the highly transmissible omicron variant continues to spread.

More than 7,300 flights in the U.S. were canceled or delayed on Sunday. On Christmas, American Airlines cited "a number of COVID-related sick calls" for the delays, but said its operation would be "running smoothly.”

American Airlines, Delta, SkyWest and United all issued statements to The Hill, citing a spike in COVID-19 cases among their workers as well as the winter weather for the high volume of cancellations.

Alaska Airlines also cited winter weather in the Pacific Northwest for the affected flights but stated that COVID-19 among its crew members was "no longer a factor," saying there had only been about 30 crew-related cancellations this past weekend.

"The nationwide spike in omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport," said United.

According to Delta, winter weather has especially affected flights at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the Salt Lake City International Airport. 

“Canceling a flight is always Delta’s last resort. The result is not only difficult for customers, but for our people who want nothing more than to take care of them — especially over the holidays," said Delta COO John Laughter.

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