MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The omicron variant continued to keep flights grounded on Monday as airlines canceled at least 2,400 more flights around the world, including 900 in the United States.
Several airlines acknowledged that COVID-19 was contributing significantly to the cancellations, not just the usual bad weather and maintenance issues, The New York Times reported. A JetBlue spokesman said that the airline had “seen an increasing number of sick calls from omicron,” the newspaper reported.
As people return to air travel, some for the first time in a couple of years, airlines were forced to cancel 2,300 flights in the United States on Saturday and Sunday alone, according to data service FlightAware. However, these flights are just a small percentage of those scheduled. The Times reported that according to FlightAware data, 12 percent of JetBlue flights, 6 percent of Delta Air Lines flights, 5 percent of United Airlines flights, and 2 percent of American Airlines flights were canceled on Sunday. Though Southwest Airlines canceled 68 of its flights — about 1 percent — it attributed them all to weather.
Airlines expect this Sunday to be a high travel day as people return home from holiday visits. And the omicron variant, which is now responsible for more than 70 percent of the new COVID-19 cases in the United States, has already helped push daily case averages above 200,000 for the first time in almost a year, The Times reported.
The cancellations appeared to have a minimal impact on airline stock prices, with the four largest less than 1 percent lower on Monday. Still, an airline trade group is asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten the recommended isolation time for fully vaccinated employees who test positive from 10 days to five with a negative test. But the flight attendants’ union has suggested that reduced isolation is something that should be decided by public health officials rather than airlines.
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