The year 2022 started off with thousands of canceled and delayed flights worldwide due to a combination of adverse effects of winter weather and the continuous surge of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Based on data from flight tracker site FlightAware, a total of 18,116 flights have been delayed worldwide on January 2, 2021, and 9,281 of those delays were flights within, into, or out of the United States.
There were a total number of 4,447 flights canceled worldwide, with 2,695 of those flights flying within, into, or out of the US.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) was the most affected airport worldwide with delays and cancellations, due to a winter storm on the 1st of January 2022 that led to wind gusts of over 30 miles (48.8 kilometers) per hour, on top of the Omicron surge.
Snow is on the way Chicago. Check with carrier for the most up to date flight info. https://t.co/Y8V7iiUv6p— O’Hare Intl. Airport (@fly2ohare) January 1, 2022
US airline SkyWest (SKYW) had the most affected flight operations, with 570 of its flights, or 23% of its operations on January 2, 2021, canceled. The airline had a total of 638, or 28% of its flights delayed, according to FlightAware.
Outside the US, China Eastern airlines had the most number of affected flights on January 2 2022, with 467 cancellations (22% of its operations), and 80 flights delayed.
Delta Airlines (DAL) announced that Due to forecasted winter weather in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region, the airline will issue travel waivers for those who may be impacted. The waivers are effective from January 2-7, 2022.
The surge of the Omicron variant has caused debilitating effects on flight operations. Despite offers of increased holiday pay to prevent staff shortage over the busy period, most airline crew are still hesitant to work overtime during the holidays, fearing contracting the COVID-19 virus and facing the onslaught of increasing unruly passengers.
On December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will shorten the recommended isolation time for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19. This is believed to reduce disruption in the workforce, similar to the massive flight delays and cancellations that occurred over the Christmas weekend of 2021.
As of January 1, 2021, the US has reported 161,060 new COVID-19 cases. Currently, 62% of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated.