What the heck is going on with airlines right now?

Airlines are dealing with bad weather, omicron, and staffing shortages during peak travel season.

Source: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

What the heck is going on with airlines right now?

Air travel is kind of a mess currently.

Since Dec. 24, ~15k flights have been canceled across the US, per USA Today. On Sunday, 2.5k+ US flights had already been dumped by afternoon, per FlightAware.

There are 2 big causes:

  • Bad weather
  • Staffing shortages due to COVID-19

Thanks to the omicron variant, the US broke its record for average new cases last week at 355k+ infections per day, per CNN.

The cancellations are affecting airline stocks

While the S&P 500 Airlines Index improved in early 2021, the sector took a hit with the delta and omicron variants. Since Oct. 1, it’s dropped ~18%, per Fortune.

After Christmas weekend — during which 2.8k+ US flights were canceled — United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both fell 0.7%, while American Airlines dipped 0.9%.

There’s also been some controversy

The CDC recently changed the isolation window for those with COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 — which is what Delta Air Lines suggested in a letter to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

Walensky told NPR the decision was, in part, to keep society’s “critical functions” — like airlines — in operation.

She also noted that while the virus is typically passed on in the 1st days of infection, masking is essential on days 5 through 10.

Who’s mad about this? Nurses, plus flight attendants, who say they’re already dealing with an uptick in violent passenger outbursts over mask guidelines.

BTW: Having travel FOMO? You could always check out FlightAware’s Misery Map, which visualizes cancellations and delays.

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