JetBlue is cancelling 1,280 flights as Omicron cases surge

JetBlue Airways is reducing its schedule by about 1,280 flights from Thursday through January 13 because a growing number of crew members are falling sick from COVID-19 infections.

“We expect the number of Covid cases in the northeast — where most of our crewmembers are based — to continue to surge for the next week or two,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “This means there is a high likelihood of additional cancellations until case counts start to come down.”

The 1,280 flights amount to about 10 per cent of JetBlue’s schedule.

Airlines have been cancelling hundreds of flights every day in the United States since Christmas Eve as they grapple with staff shortages due to COVID-19 infections and bad weather in parts of the country.

JetBlue is based in New York, which recorded new record high of 67,000 positive cases on Tuesday.

More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled within, into, or out of the U.S. as of Thursday, according to FlightAware. JetBlue canceled 17 per cent of its flights Thursday with another 4 per cent flights delayed.

European airlines are also cancelling a small number flights amid record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases in several European nations.

German airline Lufthansa said recently it, too, will cancel 10 per cent of its winter flight schedule as the pandemic continues to hit the aviation industry.

In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last week, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said that due to “a sharp drop in bookings” the airline will have to cancel 33,000 flights from mid-January to February 2022 or 10 per cent of the group’s winter flight schedule.

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