QCOSTARICA – The cancellation of flights in other countries, especially in the United States, due to the expansion of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, still does not affect flights to and from Costa Rica, the companies in charge of managing the two main air terminals – the Juan Santamaría (San Jose airport), and the Daniel Oduber (Guanacaste airport) in Liberia, confirmed.
Both Aeris Holding and Coriport reported that the entry and exit of travelers from the United States continues normally.
The omicron expansion across Europe and the United States has affected airline crews in several countries, especially in the United States, for which reason several flights were canceled this Christmas Eve.
According to reports from CBS.com, United, Delta and other U.S. airlines have canceled more than 600 Christmas Eve flights as a surge in COVID-19 cases impacts their staff. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” a United Airlines spokesperson told CBS News in a statement.
Forbes.com reported that, as of 4 pm Eastern time Friday, 627 U.S. flights had been canceled, according to FlightAware, out of 2,338 cancellations worldwide; an additional 2,146 U.S. flights have been delayed; United Airlines had canceled 188 U.S. flights, the most of any U.S. carrier, followed by Delta Air Lines with 167 cancellations and JetBlue with 73.
The most affected U.S. airport is Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, according to FlightAware, where 42 outbound flights and 35 inbound flights have so far been canceled Friday amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in New Jersey and nearby New York City, two airports with direct flights to and from Costa Rica.
A note from the AFP agency details that the three airlines – United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska – with regular flights between Costa Rica and various destinations in the United States, are among the affected airlines.
Most of the flights had been scheduled before the omicron outbreak, which is spreading at high speed and is more contagious than previous variants, world health authorities have revealed.
73.2% of the cases of covid-19 reported in the United States are caused by the omicron variant, according to genomic surveillance information released this Monday afternoon by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that account for the rapid spread of the disease. On December 11, it barely exceeded 10% of the infections analyzed.
Despite early findings that Omicron is milder than other variants, scientists are concerned by the number of cases, in Europe, Italy, Spain and Greece have made face masks compulsory outdoors again. Catalonia, in northern Spain, has imposed an overnight curfew, and the Netherlands is in a strict lockdown.
“When we have millions and millions and millions of people, all sick, all together at one time, it doesn’t take a large percentage of those people to topple over the hospitals,” Dr. Hallie Prescott, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times.
Airlines have cited the omicron variant as the primary reason behind the cancellations, along with inclement weather, with Lufthansa saying in a statement Friday that despite implementing a “large buffer” for the holiday season, it “was not sufficient due to the high rate of people calling in sick.”
Costa Rica does not currently have any impact on its flights to and from the United States.