A combination of COVID-related staffing issues of employees calling in sick and weather problems across the U.S. have crushed the airlines since Christmas Eve. According to USA Today, more than 26,000 U.S. flights have been canceled in the 15 days between December 24, 2021, and January 7, 2022, and more than 97,000 have been delayed.
That’s an average of 1,733 cancellations and 6,466 delays per day.
Well, on Saturday the 8th, there has been a bit of a break.
According to the flight tracking service flightaware.com, there were 1,322 cancellations in the U.S. on Saturday and 4,720 delays – well below that daily average and less than half of what the numbers were just 24 hours prior on Friday.
What it suggests is that we are finally seeing the new COVID protocol enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention starting to work to the benefit of the airlines.
At the behest of the aviation industry, the CDC on December 27 shortened the recommended period of quarantine and isolation for positive cases of the virus from 10 days to five. That allowed airlines that were devastated by sick calls to get their employees back in half the time.
It’s not an indication that the Omicron variant of the virus is starting to abate, of course. Many cruise lines, for instance, have canceled or delayed sailings because of the proliferation of the new strain. The infection spike is expected to continue.
And nobody will be able to control the weather, of course. Friday’s delays and cancellations were due in part to a snowstorm that hit the northeast and mid-Atlantic; today, Sunday, January 9, a heavy ice storm in the same two regions was expected to impact travel.