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Omicron effect: Hundreds of flights cancelled in US on Christmas Eve

Spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on flight crews and the people who run operations, say the US airlines

A number of American airlines, including one of the largest carriers United and Delta, have cancelled hundreds of flights just before Christmas citing lack of available staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

United Airlines alone has cancelled 125 flights for Friday, December 24, 2021, reported AeroXplorer. Similarly, Delta Air Lines has cancelled more than 85 flights across the country.  

Quoting figures from flight tracking firm FlightAware, Reuters reported that the current number of Christmas Eve flights cancelled globally is 2029, with 448 cancelled in the United States alone.

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

Earlier this week, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, Chief Health Officer Henry Ting and the airline’s medical advisor Carlos Del Rio, distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, co-signed a letter to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention asking the agency to reconsider its current Covid-19 isolation guidance.

The request came after analysis by medical experts of data that indicates the Omicron variant has a shorter incubation and infectious period among those who are fully vaccinated against the virus.

In the letter to the CDC, Bastian, Ting and Rio joined other medical professionals in proposing a shortened isolation period from 10-days to five days for fully vaccinated people who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.

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