Travel Stocks Drop Due to Omicron Variant

On Monday, shares of U.S. airlines and other travel-related industries plummeted as the number of Omicron cases increased and weather-related issues caused the cancellation of hundreds more flights, stranding travelers throughout the country during the holidays.

According to data from flight-tracking website, over 1,000 flights were canceled inside, into, or out of the United States on Monday. Over 2,600 flights were canceled around the world.

This was on top of almost 3,000 airline cancellations in the United States over the Christmas holiday weekend, which is traditionally a busy travel period for Americans.

United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.N), American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O), and Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) were all fell roughly 1% in afternoon trading. Southwest Airlines Co.’s (LUV.N) shares have regained their losses and are currently trading around the flat.

Several airline shares have rallied this year on expectations of a travel boom as tourists resume visits to friends and family following last year’s pandemic-related restrictions.

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However, airline staffing shortages, weather-related delays, and now the fast-spreading Omicron variety have all affected flights this year.

Staffing shortages are expected to affect air travel as long as the Omicron variety continues to infect persons who have been vaccinated and quarantine restrictions remain in place, according to research company Third Bridge Group’s Peter McNally.

Due to weather-related issues, Southwest Airlines canceled around 50 of the 3,600 flights scheduled for Monday. United Airlines announced that 115 of its 4,000 scheduled flights had been canceled, while Delta reported that nearly 200 of its 4,166 flights will be canceled.

American Airlines issued a statement on Saturday stating that flights had to be canceled due to “COVID-related illness calls.”

Separately, the Shanghai government announced on Monday that due to an increase in COVID-19 instances, the country’s aviation regulator will block two China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd (600115.SS) flights from New York to Shanghai beginning January 3.

Other travel equities have also been hit by Omicron’s announcement, which has sparked fears of tighter restrictions.

Nearly 70 cruise ships have been struck by COVID-19 cases, according to the US CDC.

As the Omicron variant turned upside down holiday travel over the Christmas weekend, following reports of COVID-19 cases on ship, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention revealed on Monday that it was examining nearly 70 cruise ships.

COVID-19 instances on 68 ships had met the CDC’s threshold for investigation, according to the CDC.

Due to positive COVID-19 test findings, Carnival Corp (CCL.N) has quarantined a limited number of passengers on board its Carnival Freedom cruise ship. The cruise ship departed Monday afternoon on its next scheduled tour, with all passengers disembarking on Sunday.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH.N) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) both lost nearly 2 percent, whereas Carnival’s stock slid 1.1 percent.

Expedia Group Inc (EXPE.O) and Tripadvisor Inc (TRIP.O) both dropped between 1% and 1.6 percent.

Marriott International Inc (MAR.O), Airbnb Inc (ABNB.O), and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N) all regained losses in the afternoon and were trading around the flat.

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