The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Thursday that travelers should expect hundreds of flights over the next few days to be delayed or canceled as a wave of the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to hit the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to aviation data tracker FlightAware, almost 1,300 flights in the U.S. had been canceled by late Thursday. Nearly half as many are already canceled on Friday and Saturday each.
The transportation agency said its air traffic control staffing is also under immense pressure as FAA employees test positive for COVID-19.
“To maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods,” an FAA spokesman said, per the Journal.
JetBlue said it was cutting its schedule through Jan. 13 by about 1,280 flights due to crew members getting sick, according to Reuters.
“There may be additional cancels each day based on how sick calls are trending and general staffing challenges, but we hope this proactive reduction will minimize same-day cancels and lessen the inconvenience to our customers,” a JetBlue spokesman told the Journal.
Delta said incentive pay is being offered to flight crews, and United said its flight operations had been affected significantly.
“We have negotiated holiday incentives to help with operational challenges, but there’s only so far you can stretch people,” Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, told Reuters.
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