U.S. Airlines canceled 925 flights on Christmas Day — a number that’s likely to climb higher by the end of the day. Globally, over 2,500 flights were canceled, according to data from flight-tracking website FlightAware.
The cancellations have impacted a variety of airlines including major carriers, led by United (UAL) – Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report and Delta (DAL) – Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report. Southwest (LUV) – Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, which struggled with cancellations earlier this year, did not show any cancellations on Christmas, according to FlightAware’s mid-day data. United had 238 cancellations — about 12% of its flights — while Delta had 307 cancellations (15% of its total).
Both airlines cited crew members becoming infected with Covid as the reason for the cancellations, CNN reported.
Christmas Eve Flight Cancellations
Problems began on Christmas Eve where 690 domestic flights and 2,380 global flights were canceled. United was not able to fly 10% of its flights, 201 in total, while Delta had to keep 173 flights (8% of its total) grounded.
The cancellations won’t end with the holiday as 230 U.S. flights and a total of 882 global flights have already been canceled for Sunday, December 26. Monday only shows 19 domestic cancellations so far, and 179 around the world, according to FlightAware.
U.S. Airlines Want Looser Quarantine Rules
Airlines for America, a trade association that represents Southwest (LUV) – Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, American, Delta, United, and others warned the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that its Covid guidelines could lead to labor shortages in a letter sent Dec, 23. The association asked for Covifd quarantine time from 10 to 5 days for vaccinated airline employees who have asymptomatic “breakthrough Covid infections.
“As with healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate personnel shortages and create significant disruptions to our workforce and operations,” Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio wrote in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Calio made his case that the science has changed and a revised quarantine period makes sense now.
We have all worked diligently to lean into the science. As we address the Omicron variant, it is important to reassess the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated.
As with healthcare, police, fire and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may
exacerbate personnel shortages and create significant disruptions to our workforce and operations. To address the potential impact of the current isolation policy effectively, we propose an isolation period of no more than 5 days from symptom onset for those who experience a breakthrough infection. In turn, those individuals would be able to end isolation with an appropriate testingp rotocol. As an industry, we stand ready to partner with the CDC to make scientifically sound policy decisions and work with you to collect empirical data necessary to appropriately monitor any guideline modifications.
The Airlines for America CEO also noted that the omicron variant “25-50% more contagious, but likely less virulent and milder symptoms particularly among individuals who are fully vaccinated.”
He also noted that it has a shorter incubation period and infectious period among the fully vaccinated.
“We believe that these combined variables justify a hastened reassessment of isolation
guidelines and look forward to working with you to implement sound policies that protect the health and safety of our workforce and customers as the pandemic evolves,” he wrote.