Airlines canceled hundreds of flights as the omicron variant jumbled schedules and drew down staffing levels at some carriers during the busy holiday travel season.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines together canceled more than 600 flights on Friday and Saturday. As of early evening Friday, Delta canceled had 149 flights on Friday and 188 for Christmas Day, according to FlightAware. (Other factors, such as weather, are also causing cancellations.) United called off 189 flights on Friday, about 10% of its schedule, and 140 on Saturday. Planned cancellations continued into Sunday.
Not all airlines said COVID was disrupting their travel schedules. American Airlines said it had “nothing to report,” while Southwest Airlines said “things are running smoothly.” JetBlue, which FlightAware said had canceled nearly 150 flights over Friday and Saturday, did not respond to a request for comment.
Flight delays and cancellations tied to staffing shortages have been a regular problem for the U.S. airline industry this year. Airlines encouraged workers to quit in 2020, when air travel collapsed, and were caught short-staffed this year as travel recovered.
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