JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and others cancel more flights

Airlines have been preparing for the holiday season for months, revising their plans and preparing worker stocks. But that was not enou...


Airlines have been preparing for the holiday season for months, revising their plans and preparing worker stocks. But that was not enough to mitigate the effects of the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus and heavy snow and strong winds to the west.

The impact was felt again Thursday, with more than 1,200 cancellations of flights to, from or within the United States in the afternoon, according to air travel data site FlightAware. The site also posted more than 640 cancellations for Friday.

The continuing disruption comes as the country is on average more than 260,000 new cases of coronavirus per day, above the peak levels of last winter. Infection rates are particularly high in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. The number of cases has continued to rise rapidly as the Omicron variant spreads, although deaths and hospitalizations have remained relatively stable.

The surge disrupted more than just air travel. New York slowed down to a crawl as the virus clears the ranks of metro workers and emergency personnel. Cincinnati declared a state of emergency Wednesday to help the city deal with labor shortages within the city’s fire department amid a spike in coronavirus cases that coincided with the planned vacation. Many cities have canceled or limited New Year’s celebrations. More broadly, the pandemic has caused months of havoc in supply chains.

Airlines hit hard on Thursday included JetBlue, with 17% of its total flights canceled. JetBlue said on Wednesday it was cutting its schedule until January 13. In a statement, the airline said it had “seen an increase” in sickness calls because of the Omicron variant, hampering its ability to staff its flights appropriately even though it started the vacation with more workers than it did. any time since the start of the pandemic.

“We expect the number of Covid cases in the northeast – where most of our crew are based – to continue to increase for the next week or two,” the company said. “This means there is a high likelihood of further cancellations until the number of cases starts to decline.”

Alaska Airlines, whose main hub is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, has canceled 14% of its flights. Relentless snowfall and record high temperatures in planes stranded in the Pacific Northwest last week, and it snowed again in Seattle on Thursday.

Seeking to alleviate its staffing shortage, the airline industry has pushed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten the recommended isolation period for Americans infected with Covid-19. The agency had previously recommended that infected patients self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive. But Monday, he reduced this period to five days for those without symptoms and those without fever whose other symptoms were disappearing.

Delta Air Lines was one of the first companies to adapt to updated guidelines. Its new policy, dated Tuesday, provides for five days of paid leave for vaccinated workers who test positive for the coronavirus to be isolated, according to an internal communication to business leaders obtained by the New York Times.

The policy encourages, but does not require, a Covid test to return to work – going a step further than CDC guidelines, which do not include a recommendation for additional testing – and Delta is offering two additional days of paid leave for workers who test positive on day 5. But airline protocols do not mention whether returning employees are expected to have improving symptoms, as suggested by the CDC

Megabus, a long-distance bus operator, said on Thursday it was offering free spins on routes in the United States and Canada to travelers whose flights are canceled between December 27 and January 7.

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Newsrust - US Top News: JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and others cancel more flights
JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and others cancel more flights
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