Hundreds of flights canceled just before Christmas Eve

(CNN Business) – US airlines have canceled more than 400 flights on Christmas Eve so far, and major airlines such as United and Delta are alleging staff shortages due to the omicron variable.

United Airlines has canceled 169 flights as of 8 a.m. this Friday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. Delta Air Lines canceled 127 flights.

The airlines’ operational problems come as millions of people continue to fly despite an increase in coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million people at airports across the country Thursday, the highest number since the recovery in Christmas travel began a week ago.

In a statement to the company, United Airlines apologized to customers and confirmed that the airline was trying to rebook customers before they arrived at the airports.

United Airlines (UAL) said Thursday it had had to “cancel some flights” due to the omicron type of novel coronavirus.

“The nationwide increase in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our crews and the people who run our operation,” said the US memo obtained by CNN.

United said it would “notify affected customers prior to their arrival at the airport,” according to the company’s statement. “We apologize for the outage and are working hard to reschedule as many people as possible and get them on track for the holidays.”

For its part, Delta said the cancellations are due to multiple problems, including the omicron variant.

“We apologize to our customers for the delay in their vacation travel plans,” Delta said in a statement. “The staff at Delta work hard to get you where you need to be, as fast and as safe as possible on the next available flight.”

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In addition, Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it has canceled 17 flights due to Omicron and that more cancellations are possible on Christmas Eve.

Andy Rose and Sheriff Paget contributed to this report

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