United, Delta cancel more than 200 U.S. Christmas Eve flights amid COVID surge

The U.S. government has paused the distribution of COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N), saying the therapies were unlikely to be effective against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The variant has become the dominant strain in the United States with lightning speed, resurrecting restrictions and stretching the country's testing infrastructure.

Delta said it has "exhausted all options and resources - including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying - before cancelling around 90 flights for Friday". Delta cited potential inclement weather and the impact of the Omicron variant for the cancellations.

On Tuesday (Dec 21), Delta chief executive Ed Bastian asked the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to shrink quarantine guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals who experience breakthrough Covid-19 infections, citing the impact on the carrier's workforce. Bastian asked that the isolation period be cut to 5 days from the current 10.

That request was echoed both by Airlines for America, a trade group representing major cargo and passenger carriers, which wrote to the CDC on Thursday, and by JetBlue on Wednesday

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