Travel Stocks Decline as Omicron Fears Lead to Flight Cancellations

On Monday, shares of airline carriers in the US and other travel-related companies declined, as weather-related problems and rising Omicron cases led to the cancellation of hundreds of more flights. These cancellations left travelers stranded during the holidays across the country. Monday saw more than 1,000 flights canceled into, within, and out of the United States, according to the data provided by, a flight-tracking website. More than 2,600 flights were canceled on a global scale. This was in addition to the 3,000 flights that had already been canceled in the US over the Christmas holiday weekend, which is regarded as peak traveling time for all Americans. 

The shares of Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc., and American Airlines Group Inc. had all declined by almost 1% in afternoon trading. Some losses were recovered by shares of Southwest Airlines Co to trade flat on the day. This year, most of the airline stocks have rallied in hopes of a boom in travel, as people begin traveling to visit their friends and family, something they hadn’t been able to do last year because of the pandemic-related restrictions. However, weather-related disruptions, shortages of staff at airlines, and now the rising cases of the Omicron variant have resulted in a frequent disruption of flights this year as well.

According to reports, there will be continuing staffing shortages, as long as the Omicron variant continues to spread and also infects those who are vaccinated, particularly if quarantine rules continue to apply. According to Southwest Airlines, 50 of the 3,600 flights that had been scheduled for Monday had to be canceled because of weather-related issues. Delta is expecting to cancel about 200 of its scheduled flights out of 4,166, while United Airlines had already canceled 115 of its total 4,000 flights. 

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On Saturday, American Airlines had said that the company had been forced to cancel its flights because of the sick calls it had received due to COVID-19. Separately, an announcement on Monday by the Shanghai government disclosed that two flights would be suspended by the aviation regulator from China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd. These had been scheduled for January 3rd from New York to Shanghai and were to be suspended due to increasing cases of the coronavirus. Other travel stocks also found themselves under pressure because of fears of tougher restrictions due to the Omicron variant. On Monday, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that almost 70 cruise ships were under investigation after reports surfaced of COVID-19 cases on board. 

According to Carnival Corp, a small number of passengers had been isolated on its Carnival Freedom cruise ship, after they had gotten positive COVID-19 test results. All passengers had disembarked from the cruise ship on Sunday and the ship departed for its next planned voyage on Monday. There was a 1.1% fall in Carnival’s shares, whereas its peers Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell by 2%. Travel companies Tripadvisor Inc. and Expedia Group Inc. declined between 1% and 1.6%. 

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