Wave of cancelled flights from omicron closes out 2021

Flight cancellations surged again on the last day of 2021, with airlines blaming it on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections

More canceled flights frustrated air travelers on the final day of 2021 and appeared all but certain to inconvenience hundreds of thousands more over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

Airlines blamed many of the cancellations on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections, with wintry weather in parts of the United States compounding the problem.

The disruptions come just as travel numbers climb higher going into the New Year’s holiday weekend. Since Dec. 16, more than 2 million travelers a day on average have passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints, an increase of nearly 100,000 a day since November.

On Friday, United canceled more than 200 flights, or 11% of its schedule — and that doesn’t include cancellations on the United Express regional affiliate. CommutAir, which operates many United Express flights, scrubbed one-third of its schedule by midday, according to FlightAware figures.

JetBlue canceled more than 140 flights, or 14% of its schedule, and Delta grounded more than 100, or 5% of its flights by midday Friday.

The remnants of the delta variant and the rise of the new omicron variant pushed the seven-day rolling average of new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. above 350,000, nearly triple the rate of just two weeks ago, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

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