Airlines were forced to cancel more than 2,000 flights around the world, about a quarter of them in the United States, to confront the Omicron mutant that disrupted travel during the end-of-year holidays.
And according to the “Flight Aware” website at 15:40 GMT, at least 2,116 flights were canceled on Friday, including 499 flights related to the United States, both international and domestic.
Several companies contacted by Agence France-Presse attributed this matter to the new wave of the epidemic, which affects especially aircraft crews.
The site indicated that United Airlines had to cancel more than 170 flights on Friday, or 9 percent of scheduled flights.
"The large number of Omicron infections across the country this week has had a direct impact on our crews and the people who run our operations," the company said, noting that it was working on solutions to secure the travel of affected passengers.
Delta Airlines also canceled 145 flights, according to the site, attributing this to Omicron and the bad weather.
"Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources" before making the cancellations, the airline said
Alaska Airlines canceled more than a dozen flights, after its employees indicated that they might have contracted the virus and had to self-quarantine.
More than 109 million Americans were scheduled to travel by plane, train or car between December 23 and January 2, an increase of 34% over last year, according to estimates by the American Automobile Association.
For example, American Airlines was planning to operate 5,300 flights Thursday. The company explained that this number represents "86 percent of our flight program for the same period in 2019", during the last holiday season before the emergence of Covid-19.
The majority of those flights were scheduled before the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron mutant, which spreads very quickly and forces many people to self-quarantine even without showing symptoms.