U.S. domestic airlines have canceled hundreds of flights due to critical staffing shortages caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
United Airlines canceled 9 percent of its scheduled flights for Friday — 170 — while canceling another 90 flights on Christmas Day.
Delta Airlines canceled 131 flights on Friday. In most cases, staffing shortages were cited as a reason for the cancelations.
A United Airlines spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business that the nationwide spike in coronavirus omicron variant cases has disrupted some of their flights.
“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport. 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,” the spokesperson said.
Delta issued a statement that said, in part, “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. 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.”
Delta wants the isolation guidelines for vaccinated individuals to be shortened from 10 days to 5.
Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian and other medical officers said in a Dec. 21 letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the isolation guidelines for vaccinated individuals should be revisited.
Instead, Bastian and Delta’s medical officers proposed a 5-day isolation period from the time that symptoms begin, stating that the omicron variant may “exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions.”
“With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations. Similar to healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions. Further, all airline personnel are required to mask at airports and on airplanes,” the letter states.
Can the airlines afford another hit from Covid? As long as Congress keeps bailing them out, it shouldn’t be a problem. “Too big to fail” has its perks and the airline companies know how to use them.