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Airlines canceled nearly 8,000 flights over new year’s weekend amid wintry weather conditions and rising COVID-19 cases among crew members

Southwest temporarily suspended operations at Chicago’s airports, according to reports.

Steven M. Keller

  • Airlines continued to slash flights in the new year amid rising staff illness and hazardous weather.
  • Almost 8,000 flights were canceled over new year’s weekend, according to FlightAware data.
  • More than 500 flights were axed in Chicago, which has been hit hard by severe weather. 

Worldwide flight cancellations bled into the new year as thousands were slashed over the holiday weekend.

At the time of writing, data from flight-tracking website FlightAware suggested nearly 8,000 flights had been canceled over the weekend.

The data showed that on Saturday, 4,740 flights were canceled, while the figure for Sunday was 3,283. 

The disruptions came amid an increasing number of Omicron coronavirus variant cases among crew members, as well as hazardous weather conditions.

Chicago was the state most affected by heavy snowfall. Forecasts said up to 9 inches of snow could hit some areas of the city, according to CBS Chicago. More than 400 flights had been axed at O’Hare International Airport and more than 100 at Midway International Airport on Saturday. 

Southwest Airlines, SkyWest, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines were among the airlines involved in the mass cancellations over the new year’s weekend, with Southwest suspending operations at both Chicago airports due to the severe weather forecast, AP reported. The airline also canceled more than 470 flights Saturday nationwide, according to FlightAware. 

Southwest did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

The bulk of international flight cancelations on Sunday came from Chinese airlines, including China Eastern, which scrapped more than 500 flights, and Air China, which canceled more than 150 flights. 

Mass flight cancelations have plagued the travel industry over the holiday season. Insider’s Cheryl Teh and Jeremy Berke reported that airlines canceled at least 4,200 flights across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day due to a spike in Omicron COVID-19 infections. And about 13,000 flights were scrubbed in the last week of 2021, per Insider’s Grace Dean.




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