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With virus spreading fast, airlines around the world cancel flights

Passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Christmas Eve in New York City. (Dieu-Nalio Chery/Reuters)

Thousands of Christmastime flights have been canceled around the world as airlines say the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus is preventing staffers from working and causing travelers to rethink their plans.

As of late Friday afternoon, about 3,860 flights were canceled globally for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to the website FlightAware, and 2,000 other flights were scrapped Thursday. FlightAware said about a quarter of those canceled for Friday involved travel within, into or out of the United States. Airlines cited staffing shortages and falling demand amid a new pandemic wave and other issues.

United Airlines said in a statement Thursday that it was canceling 120 flights Friday because the variant has had “a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation.”