Christmas travel misery as Covid grounds thousands of flights worldwide

Travellers were left stranded over Christmas and in the lead up to New Year’s Eve after thousands of flights were grounded by Covid outbreaks among crew members.

The Christmas travel misery came amid a wave of Covid outbreaks on cruise ships in an alarming reminder of the spread of coronavirus at the start of the pandemic.

Airline tracking site flightaware.com estimated 8,000 flights and counting have now been grounded since the Christmas holidays.

Crews testing positive or in isolation are responsible for many flights being cancelled in the US, while Asian countries are cancelling flights as a precaution in the face of the sharp rise of the omicron variant.

Hong Kong has suspended Korean Air flights until January 8 after some passengers tested positive for Covid upon landing last week.

According to the airline, the passengers all tested negative prior to the flight, but said it will “respect the entry regulations of the Hong Kong government” and cancel the three-flights-a-week between Hong Kong and Seoul.
 

Passengers stranded at St Louis-Lambert International Airport in Missouri after Covid outbreaks forced airlines to cancel flights

‘Dozens’ of cruise ships hit by Covid outbreaks

Meanwhile, another cruise ship has come down with a Covid outbreak, the third for the week out of Southern Florida alone, according to the Associated Press.

The passenger and crew aboard the Carnival Freedom might not be feeling so free as a Covid outbreak caused the ship to be denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba in the Caribbean.

Carnival said in a statement that passengers were required to be vaccinated and they were tested prior to leaving from Miami last Saturday.

Nevertheless, there were a “small number” who tested positive. According to AFP, the Carnival Freedom is just one of “dozens” of cruise ships found with Covid aboard.

Covid-related industrial action, planned closures and staff shortages due to the pandemic are also projected to jam up the works for transportation in the UK well into the new year.

Several rail services are currently facing disruption owing to staff being ill with Covid-19.

TransPennine Express, ScotRail, Avanti West Coast, Northern Rail, LNER and Greater Anglia have all reported an impact on services caused by a lack of available staff.

Southern’s Gatwick Airport trains are operating to and from London Bridge instead of London Victoria until January 3.

In the north, Leeds will have a reduced service between December 27 and January 3, including a "very limited" service on January 2.

Commuters and travellers to the capital can expect similar woes, with the Tube hit by planned closures.

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