Coronavirus Special Report
Year Three: January 1-7, 2022
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths pass 834,000. The national vaccination rate reaches 63%. France clamps down on unvaccinated U.S. visitors while Cyprus demands negative PCR tests of all arrivals. Hong Kong and Macao ban all flights from the United States, Canada and other countries. England and Ireland ease testing rules for entry. Bad weather, Covid absentees and awful airline management lead to an end-of-the-year flying disaster that has dragged into this week. Global airline seat capacity was down 35% in 2021. Every cruise ship sailing in U.S. waters has reported Coronavirus cases and the CDC is investigating. And more.
Coronavirus Update: Friday, January 7, 2022
Delta Air Lines is pressuring employees to ignore Coronavirus symptoms or possible exposure and come to work
. And American Airlines has decided its unvaccinated employees won't be terminated or required to test regularly. Always good to know the airlines are living their best corporate lives. Here are today's other developments:
Yesterday, today and tomorrow
U.S. airlines continue to falter--and strand us flyers--as they unsuccessfully battle bad weather, staff Covid infections and their own mismanagement. The carriers cancelled a total of more than 2,200 flights yesterday (Thursday), Worst in class? Southwest dumped 21% of its schedule, followed by Alaska, which abandoned 18% of its schedule. It'll be worse today. U.S. carriers had already dumped more than 2,350 flights before 10am ET. Alaska has already dumped 18% of its schedule followed by Southwest and JetBlue (17% each). Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that it would cancel 10% of its posted schedule for the rest of January. Which sounds brave until you remember that it has cancelled at least 18% of its schedule the last two days alone.
This won't fly
Some Hawaiian Airlines pilots have sued to stop the carrier's vaccine mandate. This battle already has been fought and won by United Airlines in another jurisdiction. Hawaii News Now has details
Irish eyes are smiling
Vaccinated travelers will no longer need a test when entering Ireland. The new edict went into effect yesterday (local time).
Citing a staff shortage caused by Coronavirus infections, the TSA closed some security checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. AZCentral.com has details
European carriers complain that they are being forced to fly thousands of empty flights just to protect their slots at major airports on the continent. Life sure is hard when you are trying to protect monopoly positions, eh? The Associated Press has details
Test less in London
England eliminated the pre-testing requirement for vaccinated travelers entering the country. A test on the second day in country is still required, but now it can be either a PCR or antigen type. The New York Times
Vax to leave
Citizens of the United Arab Emirates who wish to fly internationally now are required to have a booster shot of the vaccination. The Washington Post
The TSA says that 1,533,544 people passed through U.S airport checkpoints yesterday. That's about double the volume of a similar day last January, but around 500,000 flyers below similar January days in 2019 and 2020.
Coronavirus Update: Thursday, January 6, 2022
Not so fast, mate: Australian federal officials now say Novak Djokovic cannot enter the country on a medical exemption to defend his Australian Open title. Djokovic is apparently unvaccinated and tried to slide into the locked-down country on a local exemption. The New York Times
. Here are today's other developments:
Did Djokovic fly Qantas?
A leaked memo says Qantas pilots returning from long layoffs are making too many mistakes in the cockpit. Agence France-Presse has details
Every cruise ship sailing in U.S. waters--more than 90--has reported Covid cases and the CDC is investigating. The Washington Post
A day after Hong Kong barred flights from the United States, Canada and other nations, Macao says it is barring all international flights. The only exception: Service from China.
Bizarre doings on a Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun. Canadian officials are now investigating reports of maskless passengers, in-flight vaping and drinking of self-catered alcohol. The Daily Mail
The only major federal agency still under the control of a Trump appointee--the U.S. Postal Service--wants a 120-day waiver of the OSHA vax-or-test mandate. TheHill.com has details
The Mayo Clinic has fired 700 employees who have not complied with the organization's vaccine mandate. It is about 1% of the clinic's workforce of 73,000. The CBS affiliate in Minneapolis has details
Look out below
The TSA says that 1,493,235 people passed through U.S airport checkpoints yesterday. That's the lowest one-day total in a month.
U.S. airlines cancelled 1,790 flights yesterday. Both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines cancelled 17% of their operations. More than 20% of schedules at Chicago/Midway, Denver and Washington/National were washed away.
Coronavirus Update: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
The Australian Open tennis tournament has given a Covid vaccine exemption to Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked player. Response has been furious from Australians, who have been locked down for most of the pandemic. Agence France-Presse has details
. Here are today's other developments:
Hong Kong ban
Hong Kong has banned flights from the United States, Canada and several other nations. It is part of a package of severe measures the local government is imposing on the city-state. The South China Morning Post
Carnival cancels again
Rio de Janeiro has cancelled Carnival street festivals for the second consecutive year. The event had been scheduled for February 25 to March 1.
Ontario is moving schools online for at least two weeks, temporarily closing indoor dining and gyms and pausing non-urgent medical procedures. The Covid-fighting measures are effective today (local time), according to Premier Doug Ford. The CBC has details
U.S. airlines cancelled another 1,562 flights yesterday. Hardest hit? DCA lost 23% of its schedule and Baltimore-Washington lost 21%. Southwest Airlines dumped 13% of flights and JetBlue Airways dropped 10%.
Texas messes with us
A federal court already turned away Oklahoma's request to exempt its National Guard from the Pentagon's vaccine mandate, but that won't stop Texas Governor Greg Abbott from launching a similar lawsuit. The Texas Tribune has details
. Meanwhile, a federal district judge has temporarily restrained the Pentagon from taking action against 35 Navy sailors who claimed religious exemptions to the vaccines. The Washington Post
has those details
The TSA says that 1,666,715 people passed through U.S airport checkpoints yesterday. That is 84.4% of volume on a similar January day in 2019.
Coronavirus Update: Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Congratulations, America. We broke the one-million mark for new Covid cases in a day, That is more than double the recent high and a far cry from when 100,000 new cases in a day seemed too horrible to contemplate. Bloomberg News has details
. Here are today's other developments:
U.S. airlines cancelled 3,226 flights yesterday according to FlightAware, the tracking service. Nearly 90% of the schedule at Washington/National was dumped, for example. Snow and other factors--including egregious mismanagement at the airlines--are the culprits. The U.S. carriers have cancelled more than 18,500 flights since Christmas Eve.
Some of our seats are missing
Global airline capacity ended 2021 with 5.7 billion seats compared to the 8.7 billion reported in 2019, according to OAG, the industry schedulekeeper. That's 35% below pre-Covid capacity levels and demand is much lower for those 5.7 billion seats, OAG says
Cyprus says that all people reaching the island will be required to present a negative PCR test taken no earlier than 48 hours before arrival. There are no exceptions.
Eurocontrol says that aircraft traffic on Monday, the first of 2022, was off 20.1% compared to the first Monday of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.
Lattes and the law
Starbucks says it is aligning its vaccination and test protocols for U.S. employees with the OSHA rules currently being challenged in court. CNBC has details
U.S. hotel occupancy hit an all-time high on Christmas Day, 2021, according to lodging-industry statisticians STR. For the week ended December 25, however, average occupancy was just 44.3%.
The TSA says that 1,916,499 people passed through U.S airport checkpoints yesterday. That is well below the more than 2.1 million who traveled on a similar January day in 2019 and the 2.2 million who flew in 2020, just before the pandemic began to bite.
Coronavirus Update: Monday, January 3, 2022
If you had told me on January 3, 2021, that we would still be talking Coronavirus gloom-and-doom a year later--and these daily updates would still be needed--I'd have called you crazy. But crazy is as crazy does and here we are a year later still tracking how Coronavirus is playing havoc with travel. Here are today's other developments:
Jour de la lettre rouge
Unvaccinated U.S. citizens traveling to France now must self-isolate for ten days upon arrival in France. That's because French authorities have added the United States to a "red list" of countries.
Not good, but interesting
There were 2,823,692 new Coronavirus cases in the United States during the last week, according to Johns Hopkins. That is the worst single-week performance since the pandemic began in the United States in February, 2020. But that news comes with interesting data: The death toll last week was 8,731, slightly lower than the prior week. That lends some credence to a theory that the Omicron variant is more contagious than earlier Covid-19 strains, but less deadly, especially to vaccinated and boosted people.
NFL player Antonio Brown, suspended earlier this season for submitting a fake Covid vaccination card, made disturbing news during Sunday's Tampa Bay-New York Jets game. During the third quarter, the wide receiver removed his gear and tossed his uniform jersey and shirt into the crowd as he ran along one of the end zones. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians refused to discuss the incident other than to say the troubled Brown is no longer on the team. ESPN has the details
The Netherlands went into a Covid lockdown just before Christmas and some Dutch citizens haven't been happy about it. Thousands protested in Amsterdam and clashed with police. Agence France-Presse has details
About 5.3 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints at U.S. airports over the New Year's weekend (Friday-Sunday). That's exactly the same as Christmas Weekend traffic. For whatever that means.
Whys and the weather
There were slightly more than 2,700 flight cancellations on Sunday in the United States, according to FlightAware.com. Yes, bad weather. Yes, Coronavirus-hobbled staff. But with all staffers having available duty time in January, airline mismanagement is clearly a factor. There's no excuse for it.
Coronavirus Update: Weekend, January 1-2, 2022
New Year celebrations were more muted than expected as the Omicron variant whipped around the world. And a year that started with hope thanks to the vaccines ended in confusion, changed travel rules and fears for the early part of 2022. Here are this weekend's other developments.
The 2021 final tally
Europe's flying numbers were better than 2020, of course, but still far off 2019's pre-Covid operations. According to Eurocontrol, which handles the continent's air traffic system, the number of aircraft in the sky ranged from a modest minus-eight percent for tiny Albania to Ireland's 62% fall. The United Kingdom lost more than 1.3 million flights in 2021.
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will go on in person this week, the organizers say. But one full day has been lopped from the schedule. The massive event will now be three days instead of four. Agence France-Presse has details
Awful, awful, awful
With a new month and a new year, airlines have their pick of any flight crews to right the metaphoric ship that ran aground during the Christmas rush. But noooooooooo! Bad weather, bad management, Covid illnesses and returning holiday flyers played havoc with the system. Thousands more flights were cancelled over the weekend, stranding travelers and keeping planes out of position for Monday's return to work. You can discover granular details from CNBC
, which says more than 15,000 flights have been cancelled since Christmas Eve. And at least 2,600 more cancelled on Sunday, says Agence France-Presse.
2021 Daily Coronavirus Updates
The year began with hope and vaccines. It ended with Omicron, new lockdowns and restrictions that foiled plans for a return to the "normal" of travel. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2021's archives
2020 Daily Coronavirus Updates
We began day-by-day tracking of the Coronavirus' effect on travel in late January last year. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2020's archives