Airlines hit hard by cancellations again Monday, as COVID staffing issues threaten to bleed into new year

The holiday travel season is ending, but omicron COVID wave might not be

U.S. airlines are struggling with a flood of COVID-related cancellations yet again Monday as the omicron variant causes staffing shortages – and it's not clear the issues will completely clear up after the holiday travel season. 

According to FlightAware, there were more than 1,100 flights canceled in the United States as of just before 3 p.m. Monday. The airline hit the hardest was SkyWest, which runs regional flights for Delta, United and American Airlines, among others. 

Skywest canceled 297 total flights Monday, according to FlightAware, which is 12% of its total flights. Asked about the cause of the cancellations by FOX Business Tuesday – and whether the issues are expected to clear up soon – SkyWest said coronavirus cases are sidelining its crews but did not address how long the issues could last.

Passengers reclaim their luggage at the airport in Denver, Colorado, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt/File Photo (REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt/File Photo / Reuters)


"SkyWest teams are working to recover after weather impacting several hubs, as well as increased COVID cases and quarantines amongst crewmembers, have resulted in higher than normal flight cancels through the weekend and today," SkyWest said in a statement to FOX Business. "We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to resume normal operations as quickly as possible."

Other airlines hit hard are Alaska Airlines with 141 cancellations, American Airlines with 86, United with 94 and Delta with 81, all according to FlightAware. 

Delta, which over the weekend was one of the airlines hardest hit by cancellations, told FOX Business that it could be seeing an improvement over the 375 flights it canceled on Christmas Day. 

Travelers make their way into Denver International Airport. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) ((Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

"Of the 4,155 total mainline and connection flights scheduled Sunday, the airline had canceled 161, with around 40 more cancelations forecasted for the day, fewer cancelations than predicted less than a day ago," it said in a Monday morning email. "Delta expects that around 40 flights may be canceled Monday."


As of 2:00 p.m. Monday, Delta canceled 81 flights – more than it predicted but still far fewer than it canceled over the weekend. 

United Airlines did not reply to a request for comment from FOX Business Monday. But Saturday it blamed the omicron variant for its many cancellations and did not respond to a question about when it will get back to full operation. 

A Delta Airlines plane takes off at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. Air carries scrapped thousands of U.S. flights for the holiday weekend, as surging Covid infections and the prospects of bad weather d ((Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images) / Getty Images)


"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 said. "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." 

Major airlines run thousands of flights per day, meaning that the majority of flights are landing on time. But the thousands of cancellations are still throwing into jeopardy tens of thousands of peoples' holiday plans. 

And because the omicron surge is showing no signs of abating, it's not clear the airlines' staffing and cancellation issues will clear up once the calendar changes to 2022 and the holiday travel season dies down.