About 2,600 flights were grounded this Sunday, according to the FlightAware site, that tracks the state of world air traffic. This is added to the more than 2,700 flights canceled last Saturday, for a total of 5,300 affected trips in the United States alone.
The situation is the prelude to what the TSA warned since last Wednesday that air traffic would be this monday january 3, which is expected to be one of the most intense of the entire holiday season. Until now, they go more than 1,745 cancellations this January 3.
The figure reached on Saturday, of 2,700 flights canceled in the United States, set the highest record this Christmas season. The airlines have attributed the cancellations and delays to the lack of personnel due to the increase in infections by covid-19, caused by the irruption of the omicron variant.
As of Sunday night, the 2,612 canceled flights painted a picture similar to that of Saturday. To this is added the more than 7,770 delays throughout the country.
conditions worsened due to a winter storm that affected the Midwest of the country last Saturday and that made the city of Chicago the destination most affected by delays and cancellations, a situation that continued until this Sunday. Nearly a quarter of all flights originating from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport were cancelled.
The most affected companies until 8:00 p.m. (ET) this Sunday were SkyBlue, with 552 canceled flights and 518 delays; Southwest (429 and 1,656, respectively); Delta (175 and 673); JetBlue (171 and 450) and American Airlines (159 and 609).
The lack of staff due to the covid-19 infections that have been affecting flights has been reflected in the decision of United Airlines to offer its pilots triple their salary during much of January to try to minimize cancellations, according to the Efe agency.
The storm also affected airspace in Colorado. “It was absolute chaos”, explained to the AP agency Natasha Enos, who spent the night of Saturday, January 1, and much of Sunday, January 2, without sleeping at the Denver International Airport, where she was supposed to make only a short stopover on her way from Washington to San Francisco. .
Enos, who was flying on Frontier Airlines, didn’t find out that his connecting flight to California was canceled until he had already landed in Denver. “There were a lot of people in a very small space and not everyone was wearing masks,” said the 28-year-old financial analyst. “There were a lot of exhausted kids and some families were very stressed.”
Flights canceled at the last minute
In Michigan, the authority that runs Detroit International Airport said crews they worked 24 hours a day to remove the snow and keep the airfield running towards this Monday.
The Atlanta airport authority advised travelers to arrive earlier than usual due to high passenger volumes, potential weather issues and pandemic-induced staffing shortages that could lengthen the time it takes to get through security gates.
And the problem hasn’t just affected the continental United States: thousands of miles from the blizzards, in Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines reported that it had to cancel several flights between islands and across the Pacific due to staff shortages.
Southwest Airlines said it was working to help customers affected by some 400 canceled flights across the country on Sunday. about 11% of those that were projected. The Dallas-based airline anticipates even more operational challenges as the storm system moves further up the East Coast.
Delta Air Lines said Sunday it will issue a travel waiver for flights planned this week from Mid-Atlantic airports in Baltimore and Washington. in preparation for forecast winter weather.
American Airlines said most of Sunday’s canceled flights were canceled early to avoid last-minute disruptions at the airport.
Airlines and airports, in addition, prepare for this Monday
January 3. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) forecasts that the first Monday of the year will be one of the days with the most intense air traffic of the entire season, suggesting that the headaches for hundreds of thousands of travelers are far from over.