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Why has Delta cancelled Christmas eve flights?

Nearly 1,000 flights were abandoned on Saturday and Sunday alone as the effects of Omicron begins to bite airline crews.

Update:
Over 2,000 flights have been cancelled and thousands delayed around the world as the highly infectious Omicron variant disrupts holiday travel.
Yuki IwamuraAFP

A total of 957 Christmas Day flights were cancelled after another 690 were on Christmas Eve, according to a running tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. As well as this, nearly 2,000 flights were delayed. Christmas is one of the busiest travel times in the US, with millions of people travelling to meet their families. So why the huge numbers?

Omicron causing havoc on the loose

The Omicron variant of covid-19 is causing the huge disruption for passengers. Its rapid transmissibility means the spread is faster and more and more staff are needing to isolate.It's as simple as one crew member catching and everyone else needing to isolate.

"The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," United Airlines spokesperson Maddie King said, "We are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays."

Delta Air Lines announced that 344 of their flights were cancelled on Saturday, and that they were expecting another 300 to be cancelled on December 26.

"Delta people are working together around the clock to reroute and substitute aircraft and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible," a spokesperson said.

Flights all over the world threatened

FlightAware.com says more than 8,753 flights have been delayed on December 26, at time of publication. 2,331 of those were in or out of the US, with another 786 cancelled.

But it is not only American flights that are feeling the brunt of Omicron. China, a country that has taken strict but quick and effective measures to fight covid-19, saw two of its airlines hit the hardest. China Eastern had 414 flights, 20 percent of the day's flights, cancelled, while Air China had another 193, 16 percent of their total.

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