Thousands of New Year’s Day flights were canceled due to concerns about inclement weather and the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
Over 2,600 cancellations for New Year’s flights into and out of the U.S.had left swarms of passengers stranded as of 6 p.m. Saturday, according to Flight Aware.
New Year’s Day saw the highest number of COVID-19 and weather-related cancellations this week, putting the holiday week’s canceled flight total over 12,000.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had said Thursday that the growing number of COVID-19 infections among airline staff along with heavy seasonal traffic might contribute to delays as the new year begins.
As COVID-19 continues to plague the airline industry staff, United and Spirit Airlines released plans to fight staffing shortages by offering employees financial incentives for extra work.
“All flight attendants, regardless of how you have obtained your pairing, will be receiving 200% pay for any pairing that touches Dec. 28 through Jan. 4,” the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement. The union represents approximately 4,000 flight attendants at Spirit Airlines.
United plans to likewise offer pilots who take on additional flights triple pay through January.
Spirit had canceled 99 flights and United had over 200 flights as of Friday night.
“Things are likely to get worse before it gets better,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said Thursday, referring to COVID-related cancellations.
Hayes said he believes the CDC’s new guidelines shortening the required isolation period for asymptomatic, fully vaccinated individuals who have contracted COVID-19 from 10 days to five days will help, but the number of people still contracting the virus is concerning.