Wire Service
2 minute read
2 Jan 2022
7:21 am

US airport chaos: 2,600 flights cancelled due to weather and Omicron


The global air travel industry is still reeling from the highly contagious Omicron variant. 

Photo: iStock

Air travel continued to be severely disrupted in the United States on Saturday, with bad weather in parts of the country adding to the impact of a massive spike in Covid-19 infections fuelled by the Omicron variant.

US flights cancelled

The United States had 2,604 cancelled flights, more than half of the 4,529 cancelled worldwide, shortly after 4:30 pm (2130 GMT), according to tracking website FlightAware. 

In addition, 3,447 domestic flights were delayed on Saturday, out of a total of 7,602 worldwide for the day. 

The worst affected US airline was Southwest, which had to cancel 13% of its flight schedule, according to the site. 

In the United States, airports in Chicago were particularly hard-hit because of difficult weather, with a snowstorm expected in the area on Saturday afternoon and into the night. 

Global travel restrictions

The global air travel industry is still reeling from the highly contagious Omicron variant. 

Many pilots, flight attendants and other staff are absent from work after contracting Covid-19, or because they are quarantining after coming in contact with someone who has the infection.

Some 7,500 flights were cancelled by airlines worldwide over the Christmas weekend. 

Covid-19 in Europe

Meanwhile, Europe has recorded over 100 million coronavirus cases, more than a third of all infections worldwide, since the start of the pandemic, an AFP tally Saturday showed.

The continent has once again become the pandemic’s epicentre in recent months, and is battling an upsurge of cases spurred on by the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the virus.

That is equivalent to more than a third of the 288,279,803 cases declared worldwide since the outbreak of the pandemic in late 2019 in China.

Britain’s health minister insists that reimposing coronavirus restrictions in England will be “an absolute last resort” and that the country must “try to live with Covid”.

“Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid writes in an article.

© Agence France-Presse