Thousands of additional U.S. flights were canceled Monday as a winter storm and Omicron-driven staff shortages continued to disrupt air travel after the busy holiday season.
Airlines canceled nearly 3,000 U.S. flights and delayed more than 4,600 flights by Monday afternoon, according to aviation data tracker FlightAware.
The airline industry has canceled more than 18,500 flights from Christmas Eve through Monday, according to FlightAware.
Southwest Airlines Co. canceled 605 flights by Monday afternoon, 16% of the carrier’s schedule for the day, and delayed another 1,076 flights, according to FlightAware. The airline was forced to cancel the flights due to the large winter storm moving across the U.S., a spokesman for the company said.
The new wave of cancellations and delays comes as the surge in Covid-19 infections across the U.S. has left the airline industry stretched thin. The FAA said last week that an increasing number of the agency’s employees have tested positive for Covid-19, putting pressure on its air-traffic control staffing.
Winter storms across the Midwest also complicated travel plans for travelers during New Year’s weekend, forcing airline carriers to cancel and delay hundreds of flights.
JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 150 flights by Monday afternoon, 14% of the carrier’s schedule for the day, and delayed another 346 trips, according to FlightAware. The airline previously said it would reduce its schedule through January as an increasing number of flight crew members have called in sick. The company didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled 128 flights by Monday afternoon, 4% of the carrier’s schedule for the day, and delayed another 444 flights, according to FlightAware.
"The impact of winter weather, affecting a significant portion of the country and including two major Delta hubs, and the Omicron variant continued to hamper Delta’s operation on Monday," a Delta spokeswoman said.
Delta plans on canceling an additional 200 flights on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.
The winter storm in Washington, D.C. snarled operations for American Airlines Group Inc. , disrupting flights in and out of the nation’s capital, said a company spokeswoman. The airline canceled 166 flights by Monday afternoon, 5% of the carrier’s schedule for the day, and delayed another 418 flights, according to FlightAware.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. canceled about 134 flights by Monday afternoon, 6% of the carrier’s schedule for the day, and delayed an additional 445 flights, according to FlightAware. The company also said the nationwide increase in Omicron cases as well as inclement weather prompted the airline to cancel flights.