18 Aug 2022

Chaos as Christmas flights cancelled and delayed


Pilots, flight attendants and other staff have been calling in sick or having to quarantine after exposure to Covid

At least 5,700 flights have been cancelled around the world and thousands more were delayed as the highly infectious Omicron variant disrupted Christmas travel, according to tracking website Flightaware.

According to, more than 2,500 flights were cancelled worldwide on Christmas Day, including over 870 originating from or headed to airports in the United States, with some 4,200 delays as of 2.30pm.

There were around 2,400 cancellations and almost 11,000 delays yesterday.

The site also reported over 600 cancellations for tomorrow.

According to RTE pilots, flight attendants and other staff have been calling in sick or having to quarantine after exposure to Covid, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines and many other carriers to cancel flights during one of the year's peak travel periods.

Flightaware data showed United Airlines cancelled around 200 flights on both yesterday and today, or 10% of those that were scheduled.

"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 in a statement on Christmas Eve.

"As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport," the airline said, adding that it was working to rebook passengers.

Similarly, Delta cancelled at least 260 flights today and around 170 yesterday, saying it has "exhausted all options and resources - including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying."

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