Travel stocks hit hard by Omicron-spurred flight cancellations, cruise interruptions

Travel stocks were under pressure in trading Monday as an ongoing surge of Omicron variant cases resulted in sweeping flight cancellations and cruise line interruptions.

More than 1,000 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled as of the early afternoon, according to tracking data from Flight Aware. United Airlines canceled at least 93 flights, or roughly 4% of its daily slate. American Airlines canceled 82 flights, while Delta Air Lines canceled 77 flights and JetBlue canceled 66.

Shares of United, American, Delta and JetBlue were down between 0.5% and 0.9% in midday trading.

The Omicron surge forced the cancellation of thousands of flights over the Christmas holiday weekend. Airlines are contending with COVID-related staffing shortages as well as typical weather interruptions.

By early afternoon on Monday, American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue saw dozens of flights pulled.
AP

United Airlines said the Omicron variant “has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation.”

Cruise line operators also ticked downward Monday as the Omicron spike renewed concerns about the health risk to passengers and increased scrutiny from federal officials. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell nearly 3%, while Royal Caribbean Cruises sank about 2% and Carnival Corp. dropped about 1.5%.

Lines at airport security
United Airlines alone revoked 93 flights within, into or out of the US.
AP

The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it is investigating nearly 70 cruise ships over potential COVID-19 exposures.

Cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean were impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days, the Miami Herald reported. Carnival confirmed it isolated a small group of passengers on its “Freedom” liner who tested positive for the virus.

“We are working closely with the CDC and local health authorities in all ports and destinations that we visit,” Carnival said in a statement.