Flight delays and cancellations snarled travel plans for the fourth day in a row Monday at Logan International Airport, as airlines continue to grapple with staffing shortages tied to COVID-19 that have led to thousands of grounded flights across the United States over the holidays.
By 5 p.m. Monday, 139 flights arriving at or departing from Logan had been delayed and 41 had been canceled, according to the website FlightAware, which tracks flight cancellations. The totals were down from 212 flight delays and 54 cancellations listed for the Boston airport Sunday night, and 176 delays and 84 cancellations recorded on Christmas Day.
Some of the largest US-based airlines — including Delta, United, and JetBlue — said last week that the surging Omicron variant had caused staffing shortages and forced them to cancel flights. Since Friday, airlines have canceled more than 4,000 flights to, from or inside the United States, with over 1,000 U.S. cancellations on Monday, according to FlightAware.
“During the pandemic we have seen experienced airline personnel leave the industry and not return across the globe,” said John Grant, senior analyst at travel industry research firm OAG. “Filling those skill gaps was already a challenge in the recovery before the latest variant.”
Inclement weather — including icy flash-freeze conditions across Massachusetts on Christmas Day — may also have played a role in the disarray at Logan this weekend. Cape Cod-headquartered Cape Air accounted for 41 cancellations, or 31 percent of the canceled flights at Logan on Saturday, and 11, or roughly 15 percent, of the delays, according to Flight Aware. The airline operates smaller planes, and often cancels when weather conditions are poor, MassPort spokeswoman Jennifer Mehigan said.
“We recommend passengers know the COVID rules for their destination, and to give themselves extra time to get to the airport, check in, and get through security, and finally to download the FlyLogan app,” Mehigan said in an e-mail Sunday.
In a move that might help ease some of the industry’s problems, US health officials on Monday cut in half the recommended length of time a person should isolate after getting COVID-19 — to five days. Airlines had called on the Biden administration to shorten the quarantine period to alleviate staffing issues. The union for flight attendants pushed back, saying the isolation period should remain 10 days. Representatives for the flight attendants union, the airlines, and the industry’s trade group did not immediately respond or declined to comment on the CDC change.
There were hints that the worst of the cancellations may be over in the United States. For instance, Delta was expecting to cancel about 200 flights Sunday, fewer than the 300 it had predicted a day earlier, according to a spokeswoman, and it is forecasting only 40 cancellations Monday.
On the other hand, airlines also expect lots of travel on Jan. 2, a Sunday. And the Omicron variant, which is now responsible for more than 70 percent of the new US coronavirus cases, has already helped push daily case averages in the United States above 200,000 for the first time in nearly 12 months, according to The New York Times’ coronavirus tracker.
Material from Globe wire reports was used.
Andrew Brinker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.