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More than 1,000 flights were canceled across the US Sunday as airline workers remain grounded by the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The cancellations — which have been ongoing for days — have snarled travel plans for thousands of Americans.
As of midday 4:30 p.m. Sunday, 1,046 domestic and international flights with one leg in the US had already been shelved, surpassing the 996 such flights that were canceled on Saturday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website.
Almost 4,000 other domestic and international flights have been delayed so far Sunday, following nearly 3,500 delays on Saturday, FlightAware reported.
Both numbers are expected to continue spiking on Sunday.
Representatives from Delta, United and JetBlue said the disruptions were tied to staffing problems related to the spread of the variant as the three airlines canceled over 10 percent of their Christmas flights.
More than 250 flights scheduled to depart on Sunday had already been canceled, as nearly one thousand flights domestic and international flights with one leg in the US were shelved Saturday. Getty
American Airlines said its 90 Saturday cancellations stemmed from “COVID-related sick calls.”
A United spokesperson said it was unclear when the “unexpected” cancellations would resume.
“Nobody was organizing, trying to sort things out,” Peter Bockman, a retired actor, said after his Friday flight from New York to Dakar was canceled. “Nobody explained anything. Not even, ‘Oh we’re so sorry, this is what we can do to help you,’” he said of Delta’s customer service.
Flights are still being canceled by the hundreds across the country on Christmas, as many airline employees are contracting the COVID-19 Omicron variant. AFP via Getty Images
Bockman and his daughter Malaika ended up missing their family gathering in Senegal and getting a new flight on Monday evening with a layover in Paris, a connection that did not reassure the family as 6,000 global flights were canceled over the weekend.
Delta was among the US airlines that called on the White House to reduce the length of COVID-19 quarantines to jump start the industry. On Thursday, the CDC cut the isolation time for health care workers exposed to the virus from 10 to seven days.
Representatives from Delta, United, and JetBlue said that the disruptions were caused by staffing problems related to the spread of the Omicron variant. AFP via Getty Images