Busiest travel week in U.S since start of the COVID-19 pandemic

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This week with Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday sales, the U.S registered the highest air traffic since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March last year, reported the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

According the federal government agency, 2.3 million passengers moved through U.S airports over the last seven-days, representing an 88% increase in traffic registered during the same time period in 2019. The day with the largest flow of passengers is expected on Sunday, when an estimated 2.4 million people will take to planes to return home after spending the holidays with family or friends.

The upturn in air traffic is taking place at a particularly delicate time for airlines, which have been accumulating delays and flights cancellations for months due to the lack of personnel for their operations, from pilots to flight attendants and ground control operators.

The staff shortage is due to several factors, including the general context of under-supply of workers in the US labor market, fear of some employees to return to work due to the pandemic, forced layoffs or sanctions for those who refuse to get vaccinated.

With millions on the move in the U.S ahead of the Christmas holidays, and during a week in which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) registered by close to 85,000 new infections, by contrast, in Europe, many countries have reintroduced mobility restrictions given the rapid spread of the fourth wave.  The Belgian Government has banned private parties and public gathering, as well as ordered bars, restaurants and Christmas markets to close early. Austria imposed quarantine this week for both its vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Israel has imposed a travel ban from most African countries after a new variant was detected in South Africa.

On Thursday, Colombia reported an additional 2,644 cases of coronavirus and 54 disease-related deaths. The total number of COVID-19 cases since the outbreak on March 6, 2020, is 5,057.897. The death toll stands at 128,290. Despite the increase of 124 new infections over the previous day’s 2,520, “active cases” have plateaued near 14,000. Colombia’s average of 2,400 per-day infections contrast with 46,654 confirmed Thursday in the U.K., and 74,597 in Germany.

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