Coronavirus

Flight cancellations begin to disrupt Brazil’s air travel market

Flight cancellations omicron
Photo: Alena Zharava/Shutterstock

Covid and influenza outbreaks among employees have forced airlines to cancel several flights due to staff shortages. On Monday morning alone, 52 flights had been called off — 19 of which were international connections.

Of the three airlines which dominate the domestic air travel market, Latam and Azul reported a combined 134 cancellations — which corresponds to 1 percent of Latam flights and 10 percent of Azul trips until January 16. So far, competitor Gol claims the recent Covid spike has not affected its schedule.

The main trade union representing airline workers claims instances of sick leave among Azul employees spiked 400 percent in January. To cope with the disruption, the company proposed a collective bargaining agreement allowing employees to opt for fewer days of rest in exchange for bonuses. 

Heavily impacted by the Covid crisis in 2020 and 2021, the air travel sector now faces disruptions during one of the country’s biggest tourism seasons. Brazilians tend to go on their summer holidays in December and January.

Due to the exposure of crew members, unions demand these professionals be included in priority groups for Covid-19 booster vaccines.

The rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant has led to thousands of flights being canceled around the world. Per FlightAware, a data tracking service, a total of 2,868 connections were called off on Monday alone.

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