Context: According to Politico, “Major carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and American Airlines, among others, collectively canceled nearly 700 flights for Sunday and delayed thousands more, according to tracking database FlightAware.”

The airlines are claiming flights are being canceled due to an “Omicron” surge. 

Over 7,000 flights were reportedly canceled globally starting from December 23 through the Christmas holiday weekend.

Why it Matters: Throughout the pandemic, airlines have reduced the number of crews and backup crews, which has led to disruptions. Ahead of Thanksgiving, major airlines began hiring more staff to avoid cancellations during holiday surges, including overtime and pay incentives. 

But despite these efforts, flights over the Christmas weekend and likely throughout the new year will be backed up and delayed. 

What People Are Saying: “A lot of this has been the inability to connect a pilot to the airplane,” said Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, a pilot union. Tajer said the massive uncertainty may have made crews reluctant to pick up extra work for fear of what will follow.

We “apologize for any disruptions to their holiday travel plans,” the spokesperson for American said.

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