Over 70 Cancelations Reported On Monday and Tuesday
Cancun International Airport is continuing to see flight cancelations due to the Omicron staff shortage crisis. Recent reports suggest the cancelations are likely to continue. The cancelations mean that daily operations in the airport have dropped below 500 for the first time since December 20th.
Cancun has enjoyed a significant increase in visitors over the past few months thanks to its loose policies on PCR testing and vaccination. The absence of many restrictions and a return to its green light status on the epidemiological traffic light system positioned it as a global hotspot for tourists.
The airport appeared to have dodged a bullet over Christmas, as it saw very few cancelations. At the same time, North of the border, the US was seeing mass flight cancelations due to staff shortages. As many as 10,000 flights were being reported as canceled at some point while Cancun remained generally unaffected.
But now, as the droves of tourists flooding into the city over the holiday period leave, hundreds of airline staff are testing positive for COVID-19, and in particular its new fast-spreading variant, Omicron. A return to the yellow light designation has already been implemented.
Aeromexico reported as much as 12% of its entire staff were currently unable to work after testing positive. Mexico City continues to be the worst-hit city for cancelations, but reports over the weekend are seeing a growing number of Cancun flights being disrupted for similar reasons.
Both domestic and international flights are being affected by the situation, with Aeromexico seeing the highest number of cancelations.
The tourist industry and airlines alike will be hoping for a quick peak in the COVID cases, and a swift return to a green designation to allow for full capacity functionality once again. Some hotels are already reporting cancelations or rescheduling of bookings to avoid the new restrictions, putting further stress on the industry.
As well as the restrictions, many travelers are worried about the possibility of testing positive mid-trip and finding themselves quarantined for the duration of what was meant to be a pleasant visit.
Cancun received a lot of global press coverage over the last few weeks thanks to the now-infamous Sunwing flight from Montreal.
The privately charted flight saw over 100 reality tv stars and influencers partying on the plane, flagrantly flouting any COVID protocols in place. The group landed in Cancun and found themselves stranded as the Canadian government and airlines barred their return temporarily.
The saga continued for days and it emerged that more than 30 of the passengers tested positive after landing, highlighting the issues Cancun is facing. Although the majority of the influencers have made it home, some are reportedly still isolated in Cancun before going home to face the music.
The situation puts a spotlight on the tightrope Cancun and Mexico as a whole have to walk. Regardless of the rules not being acknowledged on that flight, almost 30% of the passengers were COVID positive. Other countries have reported even higher amounts of positive tests on single flights.
With numbers like this flooding into the country and with no restrictions in place to stop them, the inevitable spikes will continue to do damage to the economy and the experiences of careful tourists who have tested before arrival out of respect for the safety of others.
Cancelations on flights will continue to plague the industry for the coming weeks, or at least until the peak is reached. The yellow light designation will be reassessed periodically in the hope that the current restrictions will bring the infection rate down.
Travelers to the area are advised to check all restrictions before departing as things can change quickly.
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