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More than 7K flights axed as Omicron hits holiday travel

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The cancellations upended plans for tens of thousands of holiday travellers over the Christmas weekend. AFP

More than 7K flights axed as Omicron hits holiday travel

More than 7,000 flights have been cancelled worldwide over the Christmas weekend and thousands more delayed, a tracking website reported on December 26, as the highly infectious Omicron variant brings holiday hurt to millions.

Severe weather is compounding the travel chaos in the United States, with storms expected to wreak havoc on roadways in the country's west, though they brought a white Christmas weekend to Seattle and parts of California.

According to Flightaware.com, more than 2,000 flights were cancelled on December 26 – including more than 570 originating from, or headed to, US airports. More than 4,000 delays were reported.

Aircrew and ground staff have fallen sick or gone into quarantine after exposure to Covid, forcing Lufthansa, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and other carriers to cancel flights during a peak travel period.

More than 2,800 flights were scrubbed around the globe on December 25, including more than 990 originating from or headed to US airports, with over 8,500 delays. On December 24, there were around 2,400 cancellations and 11,000 delays.

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

Chinese airlines accounted for the highest number of cancellations, with China Eastern scrapping more than 1,000 flights, over 20 per cent of its flight plan, on December 24-25 – and Air China grounding about 20 per cent of its scheduled departures over the period.

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