Thousands of flight cancellations continue to affect air travel as airlines blame weather, understaffing due to surge of Omicron variant

Thousands of flights across the globe were cancelled as travel chaos that unfolded over the holidays continued, with airlines blaming the spread of the omicron variant and adverse weather conditions for the disruptions.  As of Wednesday morning, more than 2,280 flights had been canceled globally for the day, with more than 740 flights to/from the United States cancelled.  U.S carriers Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines were among those to cancel flights this week, with the two collectively canceling hundreds of flights Tuesday and Wednesday.

Delta had said it was forced to cancel more than 250 of 4,133 scheduled flights on Tuesday alone, while Alaska canceled 170 flights and warned of more cancellations and delays throughout the end of the week.  Both airlines have gone on record to blame weather and the spread of the Covid-19/Omicron variant for the travel disruptions. Delta said it was working to reroute and substitute some planes. Alaska said as it heads into Thursday, it is proactively decreasing Seattle departures by around 20 percent to allow for additional time to de-ice aircraft in the midst of winter storms in the western U.S. Snowy weather in the Pacific Northwest contributed to the cancellation of more than 110 flights scheduled to land at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Monday alone.

The cancellations on Wednesday come after a week of travel chaos over the holidays that saw airlines ax thousands of flights, with some blaming the spread of omicron among crew and other staff.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it was not considering recommending a Covid vaccine mandate for domestic flights, despite the suggestion by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.  CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said of air travel: “Right now, what we’re talking about is ways to get people vaccinated. Certainly domestic flights has been a topic of conversation, but that is not something we’re revisiting right now.”

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