Over 3,000 Canceled Flights: Fauci Suggests Considering Airline Vaccine Mandate

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Topline

Airlines cancelled another 800 U.S. flights on Monday morning, with more than 3,000 flights cancelled in total since the start of the Christmas holiday weekend amid staff shortages and an increasing number of coronavirus infections around the country.

Key Facts

869 additional flights arriving to, departing from and within the United States were cancelled so far on Monday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

Well over 3,000 flights have now been cancelled in the four days since the start of the Christmas Holiday weekend, usually a peak travel time for many Americans. 

Worldwide, 2,395 flights were cancelled and 6,342 were delayed by Monday morning, according to FlightAware data.

Seattle-Tacoma was the airport most affected yet again on Monday, with 70 canceled flights and another 28 delayed, amid a surge of new coronavirus infections in the surrounding area and snowy weather conditions.

Major carriers such as United and American Airlines had 87 and 79 cancellations, respectively, on Monday while Alaska Airlines nixed nearly 100 flights. 

The large number of cancellations comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC Monday that the U.S. government should consider implementing vaccination requirements for domestic travel.

Crucial Quote:

“We’re certainly going to continue to see a surge for a while,” Fauci told CNN on Monday. While the nation’s top disease official has said that omicron is much less severe than the Delta variant, Fauci recently warned that it is “extraordinarily contagious” and could still put a strain on  the U.S. healthcare system.

Tangent:

Shares of major airlines tanked on Monday as markets reopened after the Christmas holiday. Delta, American and United all saw their stocks fall by 2% or more.

Key Background:

At a time when major airlines would normally be ramping up scheduling to deal with higher travel demand, the omicron variant has caused widespread staffing shortages and cancellations. Airlines were expecting travel to rebound from last year’s levels during pandemic lockdowns, but the new variant has complicated those plans: The United States is currently averaging nearly 200,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, almost a 50% increase from last week. 

Further Reading:

Over 1,000 U.S. Flights Cancelled Day After Christmas As Omicron Staffing Shortages Continue (Forbes)

Covid Can Linger In Body For Months, Study Finds, As Fauci Sounds Alarm On ‘Extraordinarily Contagious’ Omicron Variant (Forbes)