Global Christmas travel suffers as Omicron surges


Commercial airlines around the world canceled more than 4,500 flights over the Christmas weekend, as a mounting wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant created greater uncertainty and misery for holiday travelers. – REUTERS

Airlines around the world are cancelling thousands of flights this Christmas due to the Omicron variant, leaving many passengers stranded and scrambling to save their plans at the last minute.

“Imagine, with all our bags, leaving the house, thinking we’re gonna travel and then you get here and it’s cancelled.”

Delta and United Airlines were the first American carriers to report a wave of cancellations this holiday weekend, as soaring COVID-19 infections exacerbate employee shortages.

The Omicron variant has sent COVID-19 cases surging across the U.S., up 45% over the past week alone.

In Britain, reported cases have surged past 100,000 for three days in a row – and an estimated 1 in 10 people in London could come down with the virus as of this week.

Meanwhile France hit another COVID-19 infection record on Friday, with over 90,000 cases and hospitalizations hitting a seven-month high, prompting the government to weigh new public health restrictions.

Recent research on Omicron suggests it causes milder illness and lower hospitalization rates than previous variants, including Delta.

But health officials have continued to urge caution, as Omicron’s higher transmission rates could still lead to a significant number of hospitalizations.