Thousands of flights cancelled in wake of Omicron impacting Canadian travellers

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Thousands of flights cancelled in wake of Omicron impacting Canadian travellers

A last-minute flight cancellation is not the message everyone wants in the already stressful holiday season.

But that is the message that thousands of travelers are getting this Christmas. More than 3,000 flights have been canceled for Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 2021, reports the New York Times.

Most of the flights were operated by two US airlines – Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

BREAKING: United Airlines is preemptively canceling flights due to Omicron’s impact on flight crew. 112 flights have already been canceled for Friday. pic.twitter.com/YFIe58Sd1O

– Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) December 23, 2021

With many Toronto residents leaving for Christmas, they may want to check connecting flights, especially if they are traveling through the US or Europe.

Germany-based Lufthansa said it was canceling a dozen long-haul transatlantic flights over the Christmas holidays because of a “massive increase” in pilots’ sick leave, reports the CBC.

Closer to home, flights at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, which were canceled on Dec. 24, were up to 40, with most coming from WestJet (18 flights) and Air Canada (11 flights), according to FlightAware.

Flights are being canceled like crazy due to staff shortages (everyone is sick). If you haven’t left yet, I would highly recommend you stay here unless you don’t mind being stuck with your in-laws for a few weeks. This deficiency will not improve for several weeks.

– Mike Shaw (@MikeShawCEO) December 24, 2021

Air Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but WestJet said its cancellations were primarily related to a major snow event that severely affected operations at its main Calgary hub.

“We don’t see any problems similar to our US colleagues and have boosted some of our highest guest numbers in the last few days since the pandemic began,” WestJet spokeswoman Madison Kruger told blogTO.

Kruger says they are adequately staffed to support the busy vacation travel season.

“At the beginning of the busy season, WestJet actively recalled and hired, in the expectation that by the end of the year we would reach 9,000 fully trained WestJettors, which is more than double the number of WestJettors we had at our bottom of the pandemic,” Kruger said.

Even so, a lot can change in a few days: In Ontario, new COVID-19 cases have soared to the highest daily value ever this week.

Canada’s travel warning is in effect and clearly warns that travelers “may be forced to stay outside Canada longer than expected”.

Let’s hope everyone stays safe and has a little patience – it could be a long trip home.