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Major American airlines cancel thousands of holiday flights due to Omicron surge

Several major U.S. airlines, including United, Delta and Alaska, were forced to cancel hundreds of flights on Christmas Eve after many of their employees had become infected with the Covid-19 omicron variant. NBC News’ Sam Brock reports.

Globally, airlines canceled over 2,000 flights, 454 of which are within, into or out of the United States.

On Thursday, United Airlines said it had to “cancel some flights” because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” said a United memo obtained by CNN.

United has canceled 170 flights, representing 9% of its total schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. United said it is “notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” according to a company statement. “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.”

Later Thursday night, Delta Air Lines also canceled flights. The airline has canceled 130 Christmas Eve flights, according to FlightAware. Delta said the cancellations are due to multiple issues including the omicron variant.

“We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,” Delta said in a statement. “Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

Additionally, JetBlue canceled more than 50 flights, or about 5% of its overall schedule. Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it canceled 17 flights because of omicron Thursday and more cancellations are possible on Christmas Eve. So far, it has canceled 11 flights Friday.

China Eastern has canceled 474 flights, or 22% of its operation, according to FlightAware. Similarly, Air China canceled about 190 flights, or 15% of its schedule. Air India, Shenzhen Airlines, Lion Air and Wings Air all canceled dozens of flights too.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NPR

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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