Four days straight of flight cancellations is spooking Wall Street, which dumped its travel holdings on Monday as new uncertainty returns to the industry.
Shares of U.S. airlines and other travel-related companies fell on Monday as rising Omicron cases and weather-related problems forced the cancellation of hundreds more flights, leaving travelers stranded across the country during the holidays.
Over 800 flights were canceled within, into, or out of the United States on Monday, data from flight-tracking website FlightAware.com showed.
That was on top of over 3,000 flight cancellations during the Christmas holiday weekend, typically a peak time for travel for Americans.
Shares of American Airlines Group Inc, United Airlines Holdings Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc and Southwest Airlines Co were down between 0.2% and 0.8%.
Most airline stocks have rallied this year on hopes of a travel boom as travelers start visiting friends and family after dealing with pandemic-related restrictions last year.
However, staff shortages at airlines, weather-related disruptions and now the fast-spreading Omicron variant have disrupted flights frequently this year.
Poor weather in some areas has also added to travelers woes.
Southwest Airlines said it had canceled about 50 of the 3,600 flights scheduled Monday due to weather-related problems.
Delta and United did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment, while American Airlines pointed to its statement on Saturday that said the carrier had to cancel flights due to “COVID-related sick calls”.
Separately, the Shanghai government said on Monday that the country’s aviation regulator would suspend two China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd flights from New York to Shanghai from Jan. 3 due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Other travel stocks also came under pressure as Omicron triggers fears of tougher restrictions.
Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corp were down between 1.1% and 2.3%.
Carnival Corp said it had isolated a small number of passengers on board its Carnival Freedom cruise ship due to positive COVID-19 test results. All passengers from the cruise trip disembarked on Sunday, and the ship departed Monday afternoon on its next planned voyage, it added.
Travel firms Airbnb Inc, Expedia Group Inc and Tripadvisor Inc fell between 0.4% and 1%.
Hotel operators Marriott International Inc and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc were down marginally.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
This article was written by Aishwarya Nair and Abhijith Ganapavaram from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].