COVID variant disrupts holiday travel but not shopping


The latest COVID-19 variant is upending holiday plans for tens of thousands of travelers — but it didn’t do much damage to holiday shopping.

Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Sunday, citing staffing problems tied to COVID-19, as the nation’s travel woes extended beyond Christmas, with no clear indication when normal schedules would resume.

But shoppers shrugged off the omicron variant, and holiday sales rose at the fastest pace in 17 years.

Omicron is likely to slow the economy’s unexpectedly strong rebound from last year’s coronavirus recession, disrupting travel and likely discouraging some consumers from venturing out to shops, restaurants and bars. The variant could also add more heat to already simmering inflation by forcing shutdowns of factories and ports, delaying shipments and driving up prices.

But it’s not yet clear how deep the hurt will go or how long it will last.

For now, the variant is playing havoc with travel. More than 700 flights entering, leaving or flying within the U.S. were called off, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. That figure was down from nearly 1,000 on Saturday. More than 50 flights were already canceled for Monday.

Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the omicron variant of the coronavirus for staffing shortages…



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