Christmas travel chaos: Airlines forced to cancel flights as Omicron cases rise
Airline passengers are facing more misery over the festive period as Covid sickness rates escalate causing cancellations and delays.
Heathrow is suffering, with flight data showing up to 10% of some airline's flights cancelled as the number of people with the Omicron variant continue to rise.
So far today (26 December) British Airways has cancelled fifty flights with Virgin Atlantic and United has also been hit.
United say the rise in Omicron cases has 'had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation.'
The airline is contacting passengers to let them know if flights are cancelled.
Around the world around 6,000 flights have been cancelled over the last two days, with fears the number will grow.
Industry experts are warning it could have a serious impact on people coming home from the festive break.
So far Gatwick has not been impacted but that could change with Covid rates increasing.
Figures last week from European Flight Control showed that one in five people were failing to show up for flights, with many telling airlines they wanted to delay their plans because of concerns over Omicron.
Ryanair has reduced its planned January capacity by a third.
A spokesman for the airline said, “The impact of these recent government travel restrictions, in particular last weekend’s ban on UK arrivals into France and Germany, and the suspension of all EU flights to/from Morocco, has lowered Ryanair’s expected December traffic from between 10-11 million, to a lower range of 9.0-9.5 million.
“In responding to these restrictions, Ryanair has now cut its January capacity by 33%, reducing its expected January traffic from approximately 10 million to 6-7 million.”
Cruise line MSC Cruises has cancelled sailings from the UK by its ship MSC Magnifica due to pandemic restrictions across Europe.
The cruises, due to depart from Southampton on December 28, and January 4 and 11, were scheduled to call at France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has been put into lockdown until at least mid-January, while Germany has joined France in prohibiting UK tourists.
Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “The huge disruption to travel plans over the festive period serves as a reminder that anyone booking a trip abroad during the pandemic faces a significant risk of losing some or all of their money.
“A good travel insurance policy will continue to be essential, and it’s also advisable to book with a credit card to give yourself further protection.”