More than 5000 flights were canceled due to the rising number of omicron cases. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on airline services globally, suggests international flight data. Airlines say there is a shortage of staff due to pilots, flight attendants, and other employees having to quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus. On Christmas eve and Christmas day more than 3800 flights were canceled according to FlightAware. The Christmas holidays are a peak time for air travel and it is advised to travel safely as Omicron is highly transmissible in closed spaces.
Delta Airlines and United Airlines together canceled over 600 flights last Friday and Saturday. 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.” Chinese airlines accounted for the highest number of cancellations, with China Eastern scrapping more than 1,000 flights – over 20 percent of its flight plan – on Friday and Saturday, with Air China also grounding about 20 percent of its scheduled departures over the period.
Despite early findings that Omicron is milder than other variants, scientists are concerned by the sheer number of infections being recorded. In the UK, 1.7 million people had coronavirus last week. France has reported a record high of 104,611 cases reported on 25th December. Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the US, it accounted for over 73% of all new cases as of 20th December, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Maldives, 868 people tested positive for coronavirus during last week.