Delta, Alaska cancel hundreds of flights due to bad weather, Omicron cases

Delta Airlines said it expected to cancel more than 250 of 4,133 scheduled flights on Dec 28, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US carriers Delta Air Lines and Alaska Air Group cancelled hundreds of flights on Tuesday (Dec 28) due to adverse weather conditions and rising cases of the Omicron variant.

Delta said it expected to cancel more than 250 of 4,133 scheduled flights on Tuesday, while Alaska cancelled 150 flights to and from Seattle and warned of more cancellations and delays throughout the day.

Total cancellations as of 2 pm ET within, into, or out of the United States stood at 1,034, with 2,694 flights delayed, marking a fifth day of flight cancellations.

Delta said it was working to reroute and substitute some planes.

Despite the ongoing disruption, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday it is not currently considering recommending a vaccine mandate for domestic flights, responding to a suggestion the previous day by Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert.

"Right now, what we're talking about is ways to get people vaccinated. Certainly domestic flights has been a topic of conversation, but that is not something we're revisiting right now," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said on National Public Radio when asked about Mr Fauci's comment.

Ms Walensky said the CDC considers all potential policy and it strongly recommends vaccinations, noting that unvaccinated people have a much higher chance of being hospitalised from Covid-19.

US carriers also cancelled more than 1,000 flights on Monday after grounding thousands of planes over the Christmas holiday weekend as airlines struggled with staff shortages from Covid-19 infections and bad weather in parts of the country.

Snowy weather in the Pacific Northwest on Monday contributed to the cancellation of more than 110 flights scheduled to land at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

Rising infections causing pilots and cabin crew to quarantine have also forced many flight cancellations.

The average number of new Covid-19 cases in the United States has risen 55 per cent to over 205,000 per day over the last 7 days, according to a Reuters tally.

The CDC said on Monday it was shortening the recommended isolation time for infected Americans to 5 days from 10 days previously, if they are asymptomatic. The move could help airlines and other businesses mitigate staff shortages.

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