JetBlue cuts over 1,000 flights over fears of Omicron attack

JetBlue Airways is canceling more than 1,280 flights from Thursday to January in an effort to overtake a surge in cases among pilots and flight attendants, CNBC reports.

Why this matters: The move follows days of disrupted travel over the past week, when airlines including JetBlue, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines cut more than 4,000 flights due to massive staffing challenges.

Running news: JetBlue canceled 173 flights, or 17% of its scheduled flights, on Thursday, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

  • United Airlines canceled 188 flights, or 8% of its mainline schedule. Alaska Airlines canceled 95 flights, up 14% of those scheduled to take off.
  • JetBlue did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

big picture: Major airlines and their lobbies urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the quarantine period for fully vaccinated people to five days from the onset of symptoms because of the threat of omicrons on staffing.

  • JetBlue revised its vacation policies and shortened its recommended separation times after the CDC announced this week.

What are they saying: “This past week has been one of our toughest operational periods during the pandemic,” three JetBlue department leaders wrote Tuesday in a note to employees, CNBC reports.

  • “The exponential increase in Omicron cases in just a few days is at a level no one can properly prepare for.”
  • The flight cancellations are in an effort to “get ahead of the expected increase in Omicron cases,” the leaders wrote.

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