The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday warned that travelers can expect more flights to be canceled as the omicron variant continues to surge around the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.
By midday Thursday, nearly 1,200 flights in the U.S. had been nixed and about as many cancelations were already planned for Friday.
"Like the rest of the U.S. population, an increased number of FAA employees have tested positive for COVID-19. To maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods," an FAA spokeswoman told The Hill.
Other factors have also contributed to delays and cancelations, she added.
"Weather and heavy seasonal traffic are likely to result in some travel delays in the coming days."
JetBlue on Thursday canceled 175 flights, 17 percent of those scheduled, and the airline plans to cancel more than 1,200 flights stretching into mid-January. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines canceled 93 flights, 250 and 15 flights by midday, respectively.
"There may be additional cancels each day based on how sick calls are trending and general staffing challenges, but we hope this proactive reduction will minimize same-day cancels and lessen the inconvenience to our customers," a JetBlue spokesman told the Journal.
Many airlines are resorting to offering incentives to bribe workers to log overtime hours during the chaotic holiday travel season.
"We have negotiated holiday incentives to help with operational challenges, but there’s only so far you can stretch people," Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), said in a statement to Reuters.
Updated Friday at 1:17 p.m.