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December flight cancellations reflect Omicron and winter challenges

Aviation analytics firm Cirium has revealed that December was the busiest month in 2021 for flights, with 2.43 million, but also saw the most cancellations for a decade.

The company said that between December 24, 2021, and January 3, 2022, more than 59,000 flights were cancelled “as airlines struggled with operational challenges around the Omicron surge and winter weather”.

It added: “This resulted in the most December cancellations for the past decade – six times higher than in 2019 and two and half times more than 2020. In total, 20,500 flights were cancelled in the first three days of the new year alone.”

Jeremy Bowen, Cirium chief executive, said: “Flight disruptions affect airlines and airports differently – it depends on the stand-by flexibility of equipment and resources in place to react quickly.

“Those that plan more conservatively will minimise their operational disruptions.

“Cirium’s recent On-Time Performance Review shows how some airlines have focused on their operations to reduce the impact on passengers.

“For example, Delta Air Lines completed 99.8% of flights June to December 2021 and All Nippon Airways…had a completion factor of 99.2%.”

Figures for the whole of 2021 show that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the major hub for Delta Air Lines, was the busiest airport based on departing flights, with 336,890 this year.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was the busiest for international services in 2021, with a total of 123,070 departing flights.

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