Flight cancellations to spill into 2022 as omicron, weather weigh on airlines

JetBlue will cut about 1,280 flights between Dec. 30 and Jan. 13

Flight cancellations will continue into the new year as JetBlue Airways announced it is cutting more than 1,000 flights amid a surge in the number of sick calls from its staff due to the coronavirus' omicron variant

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"We entered the holiday season with the highest staffing levels we've had since the pandemic began and are using all resources available to cover our staffing needs," the airline said. "The health and safety of our crewmembers and customers remains our top priority as we work through this pandemic, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that these schedule changes bring."

Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 13, about 1,280 flights will be cut, the airline said.

JetBlue warned that there will continue to be a high likelihood of additional cancellations until COVID-19 case counts start to decline, but that it expects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidelines shortening isolation and quarantine periods to five days will get impacted staff back to work sooner. The airline expects cases in the Northeast, where the majority of its crew is based, to continue to surge for the next week or two. 

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The nationwide spike in omicron is also having a direct impact on United Airlines' operations, according to a company spokesperson.

"We’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport," the spokesperson told FOX Business. "We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way during the holidays."


In addition to the spread of omicron, SkyWest told FOX Business that the cancellations and delays across several of its hubs were also due to weather.

"Our teams are working nonstop to minimize impact to customers and crew," a spokesperson told FOX Business. "Customers should check their carrier’s website or app for the latest information about their flight."  

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Alaska Airlines said it would reduce Seattle departures by about 20% over the coming days to allow for the additional time it takes to deice aircraft and is urging flyers with nonessential travel scheduled before Jan. 2 to reschedule. 

"With more snow expected and limited seats available during an already busy holiday week, we're not able to re-accommodate most guests for at least three days," the airline added.


As of Thursday afternoon, there have been a total of more than 2,600 flight cancellations over 7,900 flight delays, according to flight-tracking website Flight Aware. More than 1,100 of those canceled and over 2,500 of those delayed were expected to travel within, into or out of the United States.