More than 6,000 flights canceled on Christmas weekend

U.s. Imposes Travel Restrictions On Southern African Countries Due To Covid Variant
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: United Airlines planes sit on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 30, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. The United States, and a growing list of other countries, has restricted flights from southern African countries due to the detection of the COVID-19 Omicron variant last week in South Africa. Stocks in the travel and airline industry have fallen in recent days as fears grow over the spread and severity of the variant. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Major US airlines canceled hundreds of more flights Sunday, the third day in a row of mass cancellations and delays over Christmas weekend, as staff and crew call out sick amid the Omicron surge.

Almost 700 US flights were canceled and another 1,300 were delayed Sunday, according to FlightAware. Globally, there were over 2,000 cancellations. Delta and JetBlue each saw over 100 cancellations Sunday.

Globally, airlines canceled more than 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.

Operational snags at airlines are coming as millions are still flying in spite of rising coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million passengers at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.

Over a thousand US flights canceled

On Thursday, United Airlines said it had to “cancel some flights” because of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” said a United memo obtained by CNN.

United canceled 201 flights on Friday, representing 10% of its total schedule, and 238 flights on Saturday, representing 12% of its schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

United said it is “notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” according to a company statement. “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”

Later Thursday night, Delta Air Lines also canceled flights. The airline canceled 173 Christmas Eve flights, according to FlightAware.

Delta said the cancellations are due to multiple issues including the Omicron variant.

“We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,” Delta said in a statement. “Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

Additionally, JetBlue canceled 80 flights, or about 7% of its overall schedule, on the day before Christmas.

Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it canceled 17 flights because of Omicron Thursday and more cancellations are possible on Christmas Eve. The airline canceled 11 flights Friday.

Thousands of international flights canceled

China Eastern has canceled 474 flights, or 22% of its operation, according to FlightAware. Similarly, Air China canceled about 190 flights, or 15% of its schedule.

Air India, Shenzhen Airlines, Lion Air and Wings Air all canceled dozens of flights as well.