TAMPA, Fla. - The holiday weekend came to an abrupt halt for thousands of Christmas Eve travelers as a pair of major airlines canceled hundreds of flights. Several of those are affecting flights in Tampa.
After midnight, Delta and United canceled about 100 flights each across the country. However, hours later, and before sunrise, nearly 300 flights were canceled.
Around 2 a.m., Tampa International Airport reported 20 canceled flights in total, with 9 of them being United Airlines.
Although, both airlines said they’re working hard to get passengers re-booked and home in time for Christmas, the cancellations continued to build each hour.
Both airlines have cited the omicron variant as a cause, saying it resulted in staff shortages that have forced them to cancel flights.
Earlier this week, Delta Airlines sent a letter to the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, proposing the current 10-day COVID-19 isolation period to be cut from 10 days to 5 days for vaccinated individuals. In the letter, the airline said the omicron variant could exacerbate staff shortages and cause disruptions.
Amid the cancellations, United Airlines released the following statement:
"The nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. We're sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays."
For those flying on Friday, officials at the Tampa International Airport advised travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.
Real-time updates can be found here: www.tampaairport.com/flight-status