U.S. Airways Cancel Over 1,000 Flights on Day Earlier than New Yr’s Eve By Bloomberg
© Reuters. US airlines cancel over 1,000 flights the day before New Years Eve
(Bloomberg) – Airline cancellations are already piling up in the US, with 1,125 flights scrubbing as rising coronavirus cases hampered staffing. Winter storms threatened to further affect tourist traffic on the New Year’s weekend.
JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ 🙂 Corp. canceled 175 flights in New York on Thursday at 4:20 pm, according to FlightAware.com, representing 17% of the flight schedule. Allegiant canceled 96 flights, or 19% of its service. United Airlines Holdings (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc. adjusted 199 flights, which is 9% of the flight schedule.
The disruption comes after thousands of flights were canceled over the Christmas holiday weekend and earlier this week as winter storms combined with staff shortages were caused by the spread of Omicron variant coronavirus cases.
“As with many companies and organizations, we have seen an increase in the number of sick leave from omicron,” JetBlue said via email. To give customers time to make other plans, the New York-based airline cut its schedule to January 13th.
While the federal guideline, which aims to reduce the isolation time for many people who test positive from 10 to five days, aims to ease staffing, “We expect the number of Covid cases in the northeast – where most of our crew members are based – to continue to increase will be for the next week or two, “said JetBlue.
United and Allegiant Travel Co. also cited staff shortages related to omicron.
In addition to staffing issues, border restrictions related to the rise in cases have dampened the global outlook for travel. Cathay Pacific Airways (OTC 🙂 Ltd. almost halved the number of flights from outside China to Hong Kong in the next month. British Airways plans to suspend flights to the area by March.
The effects are likely to last well into the new year. Airlines around the world have suspended about 8.4% of the flights they had scheduled for January in the past four weeks, based on data from BloombergNEF tracking jet fuel demand.
In Europe, the decline is even worse, with 15% of flights canceled in January after some countries imposed new restrictions on cross-border travel to curb the spread of Omicron. France has eased concerns for UK nationals by stating that they can travel to other destinations by car, train or plane, although most Brits cannot stay in France without a compelling reason.
In comparison, the US flight schedule is holding up well, according to BloomergNEF only 3.9% of the flights planned for next month are planned on the chopping block.
The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 2.02 million people in the United States on Wednesday.
Denver, Atlanta and Los Angeles were hit hardest by cancellations and delays on Thursday afternoons with high winds and rainfall, according to FlightAware.
No relief is expected until the weekend.
Heavy snowfall is expected in much of the west on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, while snow and an icy mix “create a swath of dangerous travel conditions for the New Year celebrations from the front of the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest.” more than 650 flights have already been canceled and around 400 have already been canceled for Saturday.
U.S. airlines are unlikely to have a huge impact on earnings, said Cowen analyst Helane Becker. Most of the canceled flights are being rebooked and airlines could use larger planes to consolidate service, she said.
“The airlines are doing their best to accommodate the passengers,” Becker said via email. “But since it affects earnings, we don’t think it will matter to fourth quarter results.”
(Updates with global flight plans, Hong Kong from paragraph 7)
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