Airlines were not prepared for omicron’s spread, travel analyst says

Flight cancelations continued on Sunday. Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst, said some of those cancelations were attributed to staff shortages and were an option of last resort.

MIAMI – Airlines were not prepared for omicron’s spread during the holiday travel season, Henry Harteveldt, an airline industry analyst, said on Sunday during This Week In South Florida.

An increase in coronavirus cases contributed to staffing problems that affected travelers nationwide. On Sunday, airlines canceled more than 700 flights, according to FlightAware. The majority were from Delta, United, and JetBlue.

“It’s disappointing that it appears airlines didn’t do any scenario planning,” Harteveld said.

Airlines are constantly making adjustments to their schedules based on demand but airlines cancel flights as a last resort, Harteveld said.

Lawmakers want to increase the requirements for domestic travel. Harteveldt said that might not be necessary since fliers are learning to travel during the pandemic and they are more likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We know that at least 86% of airline passengers are fully vaccinated, so that’s considerable more than the general population in the United States,” Harteveldt said about a study his company did in November involving more than 5,000 travelers.

Demand for tests has risen and the standards of isolation for healthcare workers have been reduced from 10 days to five days. Harteveldt said the same should apply to airline workers.

Watch the full episode: This Week In South Florida, Dec. 26

Republican and Democrats from South Florida share messages ahead of 2022.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.