Airlines Cancel 1,800 U.S. Flights Over Christmas Weekend With More Staff Out Sick Amid Omicron Surge

Airlines have canceled 1,900 flights within, into or out of the U.S. over Christmas weekend—including over 900 flights on Saturday—disrupting some travelers’ holiday plans as carriers struggle with staff shortages amid the spread of the omicron variant.

As of 5:30 p.m. Eastern, 957 flights had been canceled in the U.S. on Christmas Day, according to flight tracker FlightAware, up from 690 cancellations Friday, and 253 were already canceled for Sunday.

Worldwide, there were 2,703 flights canceled Saturday, following 2,380 on Friday and 949 have been canceled for Sunday.

While Christmas Day isn’t the busiest travel day within the holiday season, there are generally still plenty of travelers on the move – in 2019, 1.94 million passed through checkpoints on December 25, down from around 2.5 million in the days before and after Christmas, according to Transportation Security Administration data.

Delta Air Lines canceled 309 flights Saturday—the most in the U.S.— accounting for 15% of its flights, followed by United Airlines, with 240 cancellations and JetBlue with 125, which amounted to 12% of their flights.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta (Delta’s main hub) was the most affected airport in the U.S., with 92 canceled flights, 11% of its total on the day.

Delta said in a statement to Forbes it had “exhausted all options and resources” like rerouting and substituting crews before cancelling flights on Thursday and Friday.

5,083. That’s how many flights have been canceled worldwide on Friday and Saturday, according to FlightAware.

United CEO Scott Kirby had said earlier this week that his airline expected to be busier than at any point so far during the pandemic during the holidays this year despite the spread of the omicron variant, but the variant, which has now been identified in every state and is the dominant strain in the U.S., has resulted in severe disruptions over the weekend. Thursday had the highest amount of traffic in the days leading up to Christmas,

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