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WestJet cancels 15% of flights in January due to rising COVID-19 cases among staff

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Due to an increase of COVID-19 instances among employees, WestJet has become the final North American carrier to cancel flights.

Because of the impact on staffing of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Canadian carrier said on December 30, 2021 that it will cancel about 15% of scheduled flights until January 31, 2022.

Staffing shortages and bad weather have exacerbated the problems.

“Despite all contingency planning, in addition to hiring back thousands of WestJetters to safely support peak operations, we find ourselves no longer able to predictably resource our planned schedule due to Omicron impact and have made the difficult decision to consolidate approximately 15 percent of scheduled flights through to January 31, 2022,” Harry Taylor, interim chief executive said in a message posted on social media.

Thousands of flights have been canceled across North American carriers due to the rapid spread of Omicron, which has been exacerbated by poor weather conditions.

JetBlue (JBLU) is also canceling flights in January due to an increase of COVID-19 cases among its employees, which is impacting company operations.

According to Taylor of WestJet, the Canadian and regional governments must take efforts to reduce inconvenience.

“We are actively engaging with the federal and provincial governments in light of evolving scientific data available on the Omicron variant, as changes would aid us, along with our sector, in more effectively scheduling crew and employees, while maintaining essential air service for Canadian communities,” Taylor said.

Following demand from different industries, notably airlines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States shortened the isolation time for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19.

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