Holiday travel badly hit by Omicron as 4,500 flights cancelled around the world

 Tourism industry will bear brunt as fears are growing about

possible outbreak of Omicron

Holiday travel has been badly hit by the increased cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 across the world. Millions wanted to travel during the holiday season. But rising fears about new COVID-19 variant Omicron has forced the people to cancel their travel plans.

 More than 4,500 flights have been cancelled and thousands delayed in last two days around the world as the highly infectious Omicron variant disrupts holiday travel. The cancelations and delays has severely disrupted the Christmas travel plans.   Already struggling Travel and tour industry was hoping to make some recovery during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

According to the tracking website, On Saturday, more than 2,500 flights have been canceled and more than 5,400 delayed. On Friday, a total of 2,400 flights had been cancelled worldwide, including 700 flights originating from or headed to US airports, and over 5,700 have been delayed. So far, nearly 11,000 flights have been delayed in last two days.   

Pilots, flights attendants, and other staff have been calling in sick or having to quarantine after exposure to COVID, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines and many other airlines to cancel flights.

According to Flight aware, United cancelled more than 200 flights on Friday or 10% of those that were scheduled. "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," the airline said, adding that it was working to rebook passengers as quickly as possible.

Similarly, Delta cancelled over 145 flights, saying it has "exhausted all options and resources — including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying."

The cancellations added to the pandemic frustration for many Americans who were eager to reunite with their families over the holidays after last year's Christmas was severely curtailed.

According to estimates from the American Automobile Association, more than 109 million Americans were scheduled to travel by plane, train or car between December 23 and January 2, a 34% increase since last year.

Tourism businesses that were just finding their footing after nearly two years of devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are being rattled again as countries throw up new barriers to travel. From shopping districts in Japan and tour guides in the Holy Land to ski resorts in the Alps and airlines the world over, a familiar dread is rising about the renewed restrictions.

Less than a month after significantly easing restrictions for inbound international travel, the US government has banned most foreign nationals who have recently been in any of eight southern African countries. A similar boomerang was seen in Japan and Israel, both of which tightened restrictions shortly after relaxing them.

Still, governments that were slow to react to the first wave of COVID-19 are eager to avoid past mistakes. The World Health Organisation says, however, that travel bans are of limited value and will place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. Other experts say travel restrictions won't keep variants out but might give countries more time to get people vaccinated.

London-based airline easyJet said Tuesday that renewed travel restrictions already appear to be hurting winter bookings, although CEO Johan Lundgren said the damage is not yet as severe as during previous waves. The CEO of SAS Scandinavian Airlines said winter demand was looking up, but now we need to figure out what the new variants may mean.

In the past year, each new variant has brought a decline in bookings, but then an increase once the surge dissipates, said Helane Becker, an analyst with financial services firm Cowen. We expect the same pattern" this time.

                                                                         Web Desk



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