America’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said making vaccines requirement would be an incentive for people to get vaccinated for air travel (Picture: AP)
Holiday travel woes continued past the weekend with thousands of flights delayed or canceled, as the nation’s top infectious disease expert said vaccine requirements for air travel should ‘seriously be considered.’
Dr Anthony Fauci warned of possible vaccination requirements for air travel on Monday after over 2,600 flights were canceled that day due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
‘When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,’ Dr. Fauci said on MSNBC. ‘If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.’
Many Americans looking to travel over the long holiday weekend have been met with cancelations or delays beginning on Wednesday and continuing into the last week of 2021.
Travelers queue up at the United American Airlines check-in kiosks in the terminal of Denver International Airport Christmas weekend (Picture: AP)
Nearly 9,000 flights were delayed for Monday by early afternoon, according to FlightAware, which tracks flight status in real-time. Of those, about 3,000 were within, to and from the US.
Airlines reporting disruptions include United, JetBlue, American, Alaskan, Delta, Southwest and other international carriers.
Southwest reported the most delays, topping 700, which the airline said was caused by ‘weather challenges’ around the country. Out west, a Christmas weekend snowstorm left a white blanket stretching from the Canadian to Mexican borders.
While some of the flights were impacted by bad weather or maintenance issues, some airlines acknowledged that the current uptick in Covid-19 cases, caused by the Omicron variant, were partly to blame.
A JetBlue spokesperson told The New York Times that the airline had ‘seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron.’
Airlines were already struggling to keep up with the rising demand for air travel after the industry collapsed in 2020, but as the Omicron variant spreads more and more flight crews have been calling out sick. Other airlines impacted by those shortages include Delta, United and American.
Monday’s disruptions come after over 7,300 flights were impacted on Sunday and over 4,000 flights were canceled or delayed on Christmas Day. On Thursday over 2,000 flights were canceled as well.
On Friday, the US reported 261,339 new coronavirus cases, up 10% from the prior day and nearing an all-time record, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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