WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. flight cancellations have continued Sunday as the omicron variant changed schedules and drew down staffing levels at some carriers during the busy holiday travel season.

On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, 817 flights were canceled within, into, or out of the United States by 12 p.m. CST, according to a running tally on the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

Delta reported 132 cancellations early on Sunday, the highest number of cancellations reported for a U.S.-based airline for the day. JetBlue canceled 110 flights and United reported 103 flight cancellations or 4% of its scheduled flights for the day.

More than 50 flights are already canceled for Monday.

TSA officers screened 1,533,398 people at airport security checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Christmas day.

On Christmas Day, 955 flights were canceled, according to FlightAware.com. Delta, United, and Jet Blue had canceled more than 10% of their Saturday scheduled flights.

In a statement shared with Nexstar, Delta said, “Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources, including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying. … We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” United said on Thursday.

American spokesperson Derek Walls said the cancellations stemmed from “COVID-related sick calls,” and the airline contacted customers on Friday.

Not all airlines said COVID-19 was disrupting their travel schedules. Southwest Airlines reported, “things are running smoothly.”

European and Australian airlines have also canceled holiday-season flights due to staffing problems tied to COVID-19. In addition, to ease staffing shortages, countries including Spain and the U.K. have reduced the length of COVID-19 quarantines by letting people return to work sooner after testing positive or being exposed to the virus.

Flight delays and cancellations tied to staffing shortages have been a regular problem for the U.S. airline industry this year. Airlines encouraged workers to quit in 2020, when air travel collapsed, and were caught short-staffed this year as travel recovered.

COVID-19 infections have surged in the United States in recent days due to the highly transmissible omicron variant, which was first detected in November and is now the dominant strain.

The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions next week on eight southern African countries imposed last month over concerns about the omicron variant, the White House said Friday.

Via NewsNation