At least three major airlines say they have canceled dozens of flights because of illness largely related to omicron variation of COVID-19 took into account the number of flight crews during the busy holiday travel season.
Germany-based Lufthansa said on Friday that it had canceled a dozen long-haul transatlantic flights over Christmas holiday because of the “huge increase” in the number of pilots taking sick leave. The canceled flights to Houston, Boston and Washington took place despite a “large number of additional staff” during this time.
The airline said it could not speculate on whether a COVID-19 infection or quarantine was responsible because it was not informed of the type of illness. Passengers who have booked seats on other flights.
Lufthansa said in a statement that “we have planned a very large buffer for the holiday. But this is not enough due to the high proportion of people coming to the clinic”.
US-based Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said they had to cancel dozens of flights over Christmas Eve because of omicron-related staff shortages. United canceled 170 flights, and Delta canceled 133 flights, according to FlightAware.
“This week’s spike in omicron cases has had a direct impact on our fleet and the people running our operations,” United said in a statement. “As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying affected customers in advance of their arrival at the airport.”
The airline said it was working to re-register as many people as possible.
Delta said it was canceling flights Friday because of the effects of omicrons and the possibility of bad weather after it had “exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and replacing aircraft and crew to carry out scheduled flights”.
It said in a statement that it was trying to get passengers to their destinations quickly.
Cancellation happens as coronavirus infection spurred by new variant continues to squeeze personnel Hospitals, police departments, supermarkets and other critical operations are struggling to maintain adequate front-line workers.
To ease staffing shortages, countries including Spain and the UK have reduced COVID-19 quarantine periods by allowing people to return to work sooner after testing positive or exposure to the virus.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian is among those who have called on the Biden administration to take similar steps or risk further disruption to air travel. On Thursday, USA shortening COVID-19 isolation rules for healthcare workers only.
https://time.com/6131551/christmas-flight-cancellations/ Christmas flight cancellations are piling up, as Delta, United and Lufthansa respond to COVID-19’s impact on cabin crew