RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Travel
It was almost a week ago when a couple of airlines started reporting a handful of flight delays and cancellations – which quickly snowballed into a nightmare for people traveling to family and friends and warmer climates for the Christmas holiday.
And if you thought it was over, think again.
Because that was the last week; now they all must come home, and it’s not going to get any better.
“I don’t think it’s going to go away just because we’re turning the page to 2022,” Sheila Kahyaoglu, an aerospace and defense airlines equity research analyst at Jefferies, said on CNBC. “This could stick around for a few weeks.”
Kahyaoglu noted that airline capacity was only 10 percent below what it was in 2019 during Thanksgiving weekend; now, because of the massive delays and cancellations, it’s back up to 17 percent compared to two years ago.
According to the New York Times, as of Noon today, Wednesday, December 29, another 840 flights just in the U.S. have been canceled due in small part to weather and in large part to Omicron, which has forced already-depleted airline staffers to call in sick.
Worldwide, more than 10,000 flights have been canceled since Christmas Eve according to data from FlightAware.com, a flight tracking service.
Holiday volume has held fairly steady – more than 2 million passengers were screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on both December 26 and December 27, and 1.995 million went through checkpoints on December 28 – but Kahyaoglu added that bookings are only off 10 percent of the 2019 levels.
“But when you normalize for seasonality, you are seeing some falloff,” she said. “We’ll have to wait until January and February to really see what happens.”
Some airlines have had to take more proactive steps, however. The staffing shortages and the weather in the Pacific Northwest have been so bad, Alaska Airlines doesn’t think it has enough supply to meet demand. The carrier is advising passengers it is taking three days to be rebooked after flights have been canceled, and according to KIRO television Alaska is telling people if they don’t have to fly between now and Sunday, January 2, they should not do so.
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